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Gambling addiction exists, but the problem of "widespread gambling addiction" does not


The Ukrainian gambling market got a chance to develop within the legal framework from the second half of 2020 after the adoption and entry into force of the Law of Ukraine "On State Regulation of Activities on Organizing and Conducting Gambling". Prior to that, domestic gambling sector had remained in the underground for more than eleven years in a row (since May 2009). The only exception were state lotteries, which have not been considered gambling at the legislative level in Ukraine since the beginning of the noughties.

For all these years, when there was only black business, no one paid attention to the problem of turning the passion for the game into a gambling addiction, called ludomania, despite the fact that gambling addiction is a serious problem that can affect a person's physical and psychological health. However, it seems that ludomania was banned along with the gambling business at some point. It was easier for both the state and the black gambling market.

However, the problem cannot be solved by keeping silent about it, and they returned to the topic of the gambling addiction upon legalization of the gambling business. However, it began to be actively used as a banner of an information campaign aimed... against legal gambling! It is a very convenient slogan for illegal businesses, because it was keeping the existence of gambling addiction in secret that allowed shadow gambling establishments to feel at ease and not be exposed to problems from the authorities due to the lack of public demand for the prevention of gambling addiction.

It is worth noting that it is extremely difficult to distinguish game addiction from ordinary enthusiasm, since many people have a tendency to thrilling challenge. Gambling addiction, also known as ludomania, is officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mental disorder, and a concept of the "gambling disorder" was included in the 11th edition of the regulatory document "International Statistical Classification of Diseases" (ICD; 6C51; ICD11), and attributed to section 06 "Mental, Behaviour or nervous system development disorders".

Signs of gambling addiction are as follows:

- Increased intensity and frequency of the playing.

- Increased priority of gambling over other life interests and everyday activities.

- Change in a person's physical and emotional state.

- Continuation of gambling, despite the onset of adverse consequences.

It is important to understand that presence of any of these signs does not establish a medical diagnosis of gambling addiction. Only a doctor can determine the presence of a problem and establish a diagnosis.

Ludomania, like any mental disorder, is a separate individual case, not a mass phenomenon. This is not a viral disease that can become epidemic. Therefore, all attempts to scare society with slogans that "everyone will get sick and lose everything while gambling" are an example of manipulation in favour of shadow business, which uses media tools to create a certain public opinion in order to prevent the formation of a legal, civilized gambling market in Ukraine as parts of the global entertainment industry.

Therefore, the very first step in the prevention of gambling addiction should be combating against illegals, because they contribute the most to encouraging players to spend money on the game, instead of enjoying one form of entertainment.

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