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Child gambling prevention programme heads for Czech schools

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Prague, Aug 25 (CTK) – The number of Czech children addicted to gambling has been rising, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Tuesday and adds that the first prevention programme, brought to the country by U.S. expert Robert Williams, is heading for local schools now.

No measures to prevent child gambling addiction have been taken so far. A novelty in this respect is the new programme that will be introduced in selected schools as from September, when the new school year begins, LN writes.

One fourth of Czech 15-year-old children have experience with betting, and many kids visit gambling rooms where they spend tens of thousands of crowns on gambling machines. As adults they become pathological gamblers, whose number is estimated at 150,000 in the Czech Republic, a country with 10.5 million inhabitants, LN writes.

In addition, almost 440,000 Czechs are close to gambling addiction, according to experts.

The Podane ruce (offered hands) NGO, which offers therapeutical services to gamblers, recently enquired into whether and what programmes of prevention exist abroad, the paper writes, citing Podane ruce director Lukas Carlos Hruby.

Hruby and his colleagues found out that there exists only one thoroughly elaborated method aimed directly at kids aged 13 and more. Called Stacked Deck, the method has been developed by Williams, professors from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Lethbridge University.

Podane ruce addressed Williams, who said he was ready to cooperate on promoting his method in the Czech Republic. He even arrived to present his method and train local instructors.

Podane ruce’s initiative has been welcomed by national anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril as the first project aimed at gambling prevention, the daily writes.

Williams recommends that children attend six lessons with one-month pauses between them, if possible.

“The lessons focus on various issues including the history of gambling, its principle, as well as mathematical and emotional aspects,” Hruby is quoted as saying.

Like in alcohol prevention programmes, the experts do not try to discourage children from gambling, as the children would still try it sooner or later. It is necessary to take a reasonable approach to gambling, the same as to alcohol drinking, Hruby said.

The instructors will tell children “how to gamble cleverly.”

“They need to know how gambling affects them, what the principle of gambling is like and what are the tricks of gambling companies and the mathematical keys. The gamble must never control those gambling. We will explain to children how they can regain control of their own decision making,” Hruby said.

Apart from listening to lessons, the school children will also try a simulated casino gambling where sweets would replace money.

“The goal of this is to show that the only winner is the casino,” Hruby said.

Children in the selected shools will be the first to undergo the gambling prevention programme, but further schools have shown interest in it meanwhile. In the years to come, Podane ruce wants to train more instructors and offer Professor Williams’s method to all schools across the country, LN writes.

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