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Germany: 4.6 million adults addicted to gambling or at risk

November 13, 2023

After a new report revealed the extent of gambling addiction in Germany, a government minister has called for measures including a ban on sports betting advertising on television before 11pm.

Serbien Werbung für Glücksspiele
Image: privat

Approximately 1.3 million adults in Germany suffer from a gambling disorder and a further 3.3 million show initial signs of gambling addiction, according to a new report presented by the country's Federal Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert on Monday.

According to "The Gambling Atlas," which draws on data compiled in 2021, 30% of German adults gamble. The figure represents a reduction on the 55% calculated in 2007, but the report nevertheless found that 7.7% of adults suffer financial, social or health problems associated with addition.

"Gambling rarely makes participants happy," said Commissioner Blienert on Monday, presenting the report in Berlin.

"Gambling is a disease," added Christina Rummel of the German Center for Addiction Issues (DHS).

Young men and migrants most at risk

The report, published jointly by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Addiction and Drug Research in Hamburg, the German Centre for Addiction Issues in Hamm and the Gambling Research Department at the University of Bremen, provides a general overview of the state of gambling in Germany.

It identified men and young adults aged 21 to 35 as particularly susceptible to gambling problems, as well as people with psychological disorders and high levels of alcohol consumption.

The report defines gambling addiction as "excessive and destructive participation" in gambling during which gamblers suffer a loss of control, gamble more and more money, lie to conceal their addiction and become isolated from their social circles.

People with migratory backgrounds are also at particular risk, according to the report, with gambling expert Tobias Hayer telling Germany's Catholic News Agency (KNA) that gambling can become a form of self-medication for migrants who have suffered trauma, or who find themselves marginalized from society and struggling financially.

The COVID-19 pandemic also provided fertile ground for gambling addiction as vulnerable people found themselves alone and under financial pressure.

Live sports betting

Along with traditional slot machines in games halls and arcades, the report identities the growth of live sports betting as a major field in which gambling addictions occur.

As DW reported in 2022, football is particularly problematic, with one betting firm, BWIN, enjoying official partnerships with the German Football Association (DFB) and several clubs including Borussia Dortmund, Union Berlin, Cologne, St. Pauli and Dynamo Dresden.

Sports betting - Football in the stronghold of gambling

Former Bayern Munich goalkeeper, captain and chief executive Oliver Kahn was the public face of betting company Tipico for eight years between 2012 and 2020, and it is almost impossible to watch live football in Germany without being exposed to betting adverts.

"When you call up the Bundesliga results on your smartphone, you're immediately confronted with offers from sports betting companies," said Drugs Commissioner Blienert, warning of the dangers of trivializing gambling by associating it with live sports, and calling for tighter restrictions.

"When young people are tempted into gambling via seemingly harmless games, then something isn't right," he said, calling for a ban on gambling advertising on television before 11pm.

But with the German gambling industry recording record gross revenues of €13.4 billion ($14.3bn) last year and the German state collecting €5.2bn in taxes from legal gambling in 2021 alone - over twice as much as on alcohol - the industry has a powerful lobby.

mf/lo (SID, KNA, dpa)

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