Spillemyndigheden, the Danish Gambling Authority, has started a nationwide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the dangers associated with underage gambling. Although the majority of gambling products in Denmark are legally available to persons over the age of 18, intervention on the side of the gambling authority is much needed.
A recent study, conducted by Spillemyndigheden and published in November this year, indicates that many young Danes under 18 gamble online. According to the study, 15% of young people between the ages of 15 and 17, equating to nearly 32,000 individuals, have gambled online over the past year.
This was possible by registering an account at unlicensed gambling operators where age verifications are not strictly monitored. The study also reveals that since 2012 the Danish Gambling Authority has blocked 276 sites that were found to offer illegitimate gambling services.
As for the type of gambling services that the under-18s have engaged with, they indicated that they participated in various games and therefore the percentages exceed 100. 68% of respondents have opted for sports betting and 42% chose online casino games. Skin betting is yet another type of gambling available only in the illegal gambling market that appealed to 35% of the respondents. Lotteries and scratch cards have grasped the attention of 21% of young Danes, and the remaining 4% have picked some other gambling product.
StopSpillet is a helpline under the management of Spillemyndigheden providing help and guidance to individuals dealing with compulsive gambling. Half of the individuals who have contacted the helpline’s reps stated they had started gambling before the age of 18.
The Initiative Uses a Creative Approach to Garner the Attention of Its Young Target Group
To address the findings of the study, the Danish Gambling Authority has come up with an initiative that targets for the first time individuals aged below 18 years. Anders Dorph, Director of Spillemyndigheden, has commented on the newly launched initiative underlining the fact that the sooner people are introduced to gambling in life, the more vulnerable they become to the potential threats of compulsive gambling later on.
To engage and appeal to its young audience, the initiative utilizes a creative approach. The centerpiece of the program is a character, dubbed “The One-Armed Bandit”, played by David Minerba. He serves as an analogy to gambling addiction. Young Danes can follow the fictional character on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube and engage with posts and shorts presented humorously and ironically.
Anders Dorph further explained that although problem gambling is a very serious issue, the program has resorted to humor and irony to achieve better engagement and garner the attention of young individuals more easily: “We have chosen a new approach in this effort, where we try to open young people’s eyes through humor and irony on their terms, so we arouse their curiosity, get them engaged and relate to gambling without stigmatizing and creating fear”.
The Director of the DGA further explained that gambling has become a social activity among young people and that it could very easily get out of their control. “The One-Armed Bandit” serves the important purpose of reminding them of the potential adverse consequences associated with gambling, including financial indebtedness, social isolation, and mental health conditions.