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Report: Number of gambling addicts rising in CzechRep

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Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) – The number of Czechs addicted to gambling machines, online gambling and betting has been rising, reaching up to 120,000 in 2016 when people lost a total of 39.3 billion crowns in gambling, according to a report released by the National Centre for Drugs and Addictions Monitoring.

A total of 500,000 people may have had gambling-related problems. A gambler’s average debt reached 1.2 million crowns, a double of the average debt in 2015, the annual report says.

Some gamblers owe as much as tens of millions of crowns, it says.

In 2014, the number of problem gamblers was 440,000, including 100,000 addicts.

According to the report, the number of gamblers threatened with addiction slightly increased last year, as did the number of pathological gamblers.

A survey showed that 4 percent of men and 0.8 percent women may have problems related to gambling.

About 10 percent of the addicts are children and juveniles under 18. Boys incline to gambling much more. They bet online most often of all, while girls prefer lotteries.

Gambling is more spread among apprentices and it is the least frequent with grammar school students, the survey showed.

According to preliminary estimates, people lost 39.3 billion crowns in gambling in 2016, betting a total of 196.4 billion crowns. The operators paid out 157.1 billion in wins.

People’s spending on games has been rising since 2013. It rose by 20 percent in 2016, compared with the preceding year.

The public budgets gained 10.5 billion crowns in taxes and fees from gambling. Out of the sum, 4.4 billion went to the state and 6.1 billion to towns.

About 20 percent of on-line gamblers have ever bet more than 1,000 crowns on one day.

A half of on-line gamblers spend more than one hour a day gambling. As far as gambling machines are concerned, seven in ten gamblers spend more than one hour a day with them, the report writes.

The treatment of gambling addiction is badly accessible in the Czech Republic, it continues.

About 1,300-1,500 gamblers were treated in out-patient psychiatric wards between 2004 and 2015.

The portion of women among them rose gradually to reach 14 percent in 2015.

Consulting centres to help gamblers tackle their debts are lacked in the country. Gamblers’ self-help organisations have emerged, two in Prague and one in Brno, the report writes.

Illegal gambling machines operated in 402 gambling rooms in April 2016. Most of them were “quiz-machines,” and newly also “puzzle-machines” and “e-shop machines.”

In the first quarter of 2017, the Customs Authority made 323 checks and uncovered 234 illegal machines.

A new law on gambling has been in force in the Czech Republic since January. It enabled foreign operators’ entry onto the Czech market and gave the green light to online gambling.

It set rules for issuing licences and the checks of gambling, introduced compulsory pauses in gambling and maximum sums that can be bet and won. It restricted gambling advertisements.

Since January, the tax on hi-tech games has been 35 percent and on the remaining games 23 percent.

According to a recent government analysis, however, the gambling law was amended under the influence of the gambling lobby in favour of the gambling business and to the detriment of the public interest.

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