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Government approves action plan to fight gambling

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Prague, Nov 9 (CTK) – The Czech government approved yesterday an action plan to prevent gambling and remove its negative consequences in the next three years, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said after the cabinet´s meeting.
The plan focuses both on the gambling control and on the treatment of addicts.
Hundreds of thousands of people become addicted to gambling in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million, national anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said.
“We are the first government to approve a document of this kind,” Sobotka told reporters.
The government wants to raise public awareness of the risks connected with gambling, strengthen its prevention, intensify the gamblers´ contacts with the services to help them and increase social responsibility of the firms running gambling, Sobotka said about the action plan´s goals.
He pointed out that the government was also trying to regulate gambling through a new legislation.
At present, gambling addicts do not know to whom they should turn if they seek help, Voboril told reporters.
“There is no prevention programme in the country and the respective measures are not being sufficiently implemented,” he added.
The laws concerning addictions usually focus on tax collecting, while the action plan is broader and it deals with particular steps in the treatment and prevention of pathological gambling, Voboril said.
Apart from prevention, consultancy and treatment, it includes control and law enforcement, coordination and funding of anti-drug policy in the sphere of gambling as well as an overall monitoring of the situation.
The Czech Republic annually spends 14 to 16 billion crowns on the fight with gambling consequences, while two to five billion could be spared by an efficient regulation of “hard gambling,” according to a study worked out by the Psychiatric Centre Prague on which daily Lidove noviny reported last year.
($1=24.892 crowns)

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