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The scale of gambling addiction in Ukraine is significantly overestimated

Today in Ukraine, the topic of gambling addiction is a matter of great public interest. However, as with any topic of interest to society, the issue of gambling and the gambling addiction it can potentially cause quickly became the subject of manipulation. Today, we see a lot of publications in the media stating that the scale of gambling addiction in Ukraine is huge, especially among military personnel. But is it really true?

According to the Register of Persons with Restricted Access to Gambling Facilities and/or Participation in Gambling, as of May 3, 2024, 6933 people with gambling problems were registered in Ukraine. What does this figure mean?

Firstly, the fact that the procedure of self-restriction and restriction of relatives from gambling is working. Thus, players and their relatives have a clear mechanism to limit their participation in gambling. This mechanism is open to absolutely all citizens, including military personnel and their families.

Secondly, and most important, this figure shows that there is no massive problem of gambling addiction among the population in general, and among military personnel in particular. If we take the approximate current population of Ukraine (almost 36 million) and the number of potential gamblers, which is approximately 7% of the total adult population (approximately 20 million), we will get 1.4 million potential gamblers. So, 6,933 people out of 1.4 million is only 0.49%. For example, in developed European countries, the standard number of gamblers with gambling issues is from 0.3% to 6.4% of the adult population that gambles.

Of course, these estimates are relative, as it is currently difficult to obtain clear statistics on the population in Ukraine and the actual number of players due to the war. Moreover, not all gamblers are included in the Register. But even if we imagine that the real number of players with gambling addiction is 5 times higher than the number of those already registered in the Register, the figure will still fluctuate at 2.5% of the total number of potential players in Ukraine. With such figures, it is simply absurd to talk about the "pandemic nature" of the problem of gambling addiction in the country.

Besides, if the problem of gambling addiction is as big as some opponents of gambling legalization try to make it out to be, why don't their bills contain appropriate provisions to protect the military from gambling addiction? For example, the draft law 9256-d, initiated by the Tax Committee of the Verkhovna Rada and headed by Hetmantsev, has a lot of provisions that lobby for the interests of lotteries, but none aimed at preventing the spread of gambling addiction. At the same time, the lotteries, ignoring the law, imitate gambling without having licenses for it and do not pay any taxes or license fees to the budget. It looks strange, doesn't it?

Undoubtedly, the problem of gambling addiction deserves attention and consideration from society and lawmakers. And even a few dozen gambling addicts per million players is not a small number, because each person has a personal story behind them that led to this addiction. However, instead of empty manipulative discourse around gambling addiction by certain officials, opinion leaders and the media, it would be much better to take real legislative steps to fight gambling addiction and, in particular, to limit the participation of the military in gambling. Especially since there is enough technical capacity for this.



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