There’s no question that the gambling industry has been very profitable. The industry makes billions of dollars a year in revenue worldwide. Most gamblers can gamble a little of their money for entertainment and walk away. More than 98 percent of gamblers can gamble what they have budgeted and, then, stop. However, around 2 percent have a gambling problem. In the past, the gambling industry has tended to ignore problem gamblers and focused more on those without a problem. Now, however, gambling companies have realized this is a bad idea. They realize they can help to make gambling safer for everyone.
The Problem with Addiction
The small percentage of people with a gambling problem doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. However, it’s a painful statistic. Research shows that when addicts have a problem with gambling, they cause problems for themselves, their families, and their communities. People who have an addiction toss everything to the side to focus on gambling. Researchers estimate that 60 percent of people who are married and addicted to gambling eventually end up getting a divorce. More than two-thirds of problem gamblers commit some kind of crime to feed their gambling addiction. Suicide rates for problem gamblers are more than four times higher than for people without a problem.
Where Gambling Businesses Have Fallen Short
One of the greatest concerns about gambling addiction has come from press reports about youth and gambling. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service reports that 55,000 teenagers are addicted to gambling. Reports from the United States note 75 percent of college students gambled at least once during the school year. Six percent of college students say they know they have a gambling problem. Those same students reported stealing money and using credit cards to gamble. While gambling companies are out to make money, they don’t want to earn it through problem gamblers.
There has been a push in several countries to regulate gambling companies further. In the U.K., the push has been to tax gambling companies to pay for treatment for problem gamblers. Parliament has also instituted a ban on gambling ads during live sporting events, as has Italy. Other countries, such as Australia, are looking for ways to ban gambling addicts from sites permanently. Gambling companies need to police themselves, or risk being legislated further, according to the Remote Gambling Association.
The Notion of Responsible Gaming
The Remote Gambling Association has moved into the forefront of corporate responsibility. Based in London and Brussels, it has been advocating for responsible gambling for the last few years. Its chief executive, Wes Himes, said gambling operators need to police problem gambling. The organization fears that if companies don’t act, they will be overwhelmed with government regulations.
Himes said gambling companies need to collaborate on online gambling policies. The organization wants companies to work together on three distinct fronts. First, Himes believes that companies need to work together to combat money laundering. Companies could share information on customers they believe may be laundering money, so they can ban them from websites. This helps keep companies within the law, and customers safe.
Also, companies need to work on an extensive self-exclusion policy. Gamblers should be able to ban themselves across all apps and websites if they are addicted to online gambling. Himes also wants to make modifications to online sites that would allow gamblers to set a budget or a timer. The gamblers could set limits on how much to gamble and when. Himes believes that if gamblers can be in charge of their gambling, they will gamble more responsibly.
If online companies can craft policy to combat gambling addiction, it will mark a shift in gambling policy overall.
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