Malta Agency, Gambling Usage Stats
April 14, 2007, 6:39 pm (12 years ago)
Upon the recent lifestyle study that was conducted by the Maltese organization, Agenzija Sedqa, in collaboration with the National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the National Commission on the abuse of drugs, alcohol and other dependencies, online gambling usage can actually be found to be very low.
There are fewer than sixty percent of the respondents that are placed in the age bracket of eighteen to twenty four that have admitted to having played the lottery, or even betted or gambled at least once in their lifetime. The other fifty four percent have admitted that they have played the lotto, Super 5, Scratch cards and Keno at an estimated one time while the other six point two percent said they play weekly or almost weekly. An average of just over two percent has said that they have gambled online.
Jean Claude Cardona, the Sedqa operations director, has explained that Sedqa in deed carried out the study and the results of that study will be officially published at a later date, in the year of 2006 one thousand and two hundred and twenty six students admitted that they had took part in gambling in some sort of way, they were all between the ages of eighteen and twenty four years old.
Cardona singled out the pastime out, despite the low percentage usage of internet gambling indicated by the poll, saying "Internet gambling is easily accessible and there are no physical deterrents that might put a person off gambling," he said.
"All a person has to do is sit at his computer and access the site, putting him at a higher risk of becoming asocial." All the possible deterrents - such as getting ready to go to the casino, being over 25, and actually driving to the location - are all eliminated with Internet gambling, said Cardona.
Service manager Manwel Mangani, another Sedqa official, pointed out that one of the great advantages of Internet gambling is anonymity.
"There still seems to be a stigma - some people still feel uncomfortable being seen walking into a casino," he said. Internet gambling appeals to the solitary type and people who are somewhat anti-social, Mangani added.
"Experts predict that gambling will eventually be done through interaction with television," he said. Cardona pointed out that care has to be taken as the latest forms of entertainment are isolating people.
The Sedqa official was critical of advertising for international poker tournaments, pointing out that; unfortunately, several local and foreign television stations are publicizing this aspect of gambling.
Cardona said "Although the adverts are shown quite late - they are still there," adding, "even though people cannot actually bet on the stakes in question, they still become involved in the game."
Sedqa is using the media for its own campaigns, Cardona revealed. "Sedqa is working hard to increase awareness on gambling addiction through information campaigns," he said.
He was critical of the registration system to gamble online, claiming it to be "not very reliable."
"I have heard of cases where young people steal their parents' credit cards and gamble online," he said. This is when something needs to be done before things get out of control.
Malta is one of a number of international online gambling regulators that makes its license available to online gambling operators through the LGA, and Cardona said that Sedqa is calling for more regulations especially where online gambling is concerned.
"The government has recently approved our request to provide and train one social worker who will focus solely on helping gamblers overcome their addiction while providing support to their families," he said.
Fellow Sedqa official Mangani said that many online gambling sites offer links to sites that offer online counseling and help for a gambling addiction. "The same medium can be used to reach out to addicts," he said. "In fact there are many websites that offer online counseling and although it is still too early to say if these are effective, at least they are there," he explained. If someone has a problem with gambling it is very important that they get it taken care of before it is too late and there are other consequences that they have to face. Counseling will allow those who do have issues to get the help they need to make things better before they do something that they may regret.
In collaboration with the UK problem gambling organization Gamcare, there are plans for Sedqa to organize professional training for counselors and social workers, probably during April this year.
Mangani is of the opinion that online gambling addiction is very similar to alcohol addiction. "A sober alcoholic lives in a society that bombards him or her with information and adverts on alcohol yet they still manage. Similarly, it does not mean that someone who has an online gambling problem will not be able to access the Internet for the rest of his or her life," he added.
Mangani said the family is closely involved in the treatment, which places great emphasis on group work. "Gamblers Anonymous provides a great service and we refer a lot of clients to them, although it operates independently of Sedqa," he added.
The more difficult operating situation for online gambling owners in the USA following the UIGEA is creating more online gambling action in Europe, Mangani says.
"Several online casinos that were based in countries like Barbados have closed and are trying to open in Europe. It is very tempting for governments to use it as a source of revenue," he explained. Last Year online gambling generated Lm12.5 million in revenue for the Maltese government and this is expected to go up to Lm18 million this year.
The weekend's Malta Online Independent added substance to the Sedqa survey by reporting that two new factors could see more online gambling operators gravitating to Malta and applying for licensing with the LGA. The newspaper referred to the disappointment generated among online gambling firms by the high taxation regime announced in the UK budget recently by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, pointing out that this may make Malta a more attractive option. The second development the newspaper highlighted was dissatisfaction among Czech companies with the confusing and slow legislative progress and protectionist nature of the gambling scene in their home country.
March 3, 2009, 8:16 am (10 years ago)
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