Latvian gambling regulator the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection (IAUI) has revealed that 127 people have so far accessed new, state-funded psychologist support for consumers affected by gambling-related problems.
Launched in July, the IAUI initiative was designed to provide free psychological treatment to affected players, as well as their families and friends.
During the first four months of the project, the IAUI staged a total of 12 free-to-attend sessions for players with gambling problems, while a further five were organised for relatives and friends of people suffering with gambling-related problems.
Qualified psychologist Magdalēna Pranaite led the support groups, where players meet to seek support and work together to find solution to their problems. Free, individual psychologist counselling has also been made available to players.
“Gambling addiction starts slowly, without realising it, but solving a problem can take a lot more effort and is often difficult for one to accomplish,” Pranaite said. “Excessive gambling affects not only the gambler, but also their friends and family. It is important that everyone affected by the problem receives help during the recovery period.”
IAUI director Signe Birne added: “The task of the IAUI is not only to oversee the organisation of gambling and lotteries, but also to reduce the potential social risks associated with them. One of the available tools for overcoming gambling problems is free psychological support for those who are aware and want to combat excessive gambling.
“Together with a certified professional, the gambling player and his or her relatives can receive encouragement, support and guidance to address problems in a targeted and effective manner.”
The initiative is one of a number of measures the IAUI has launched in an effort to clamp down on problem gambling in the country. Next year, the IAUI will also introduce a single self-exclusion register whereby consumers can opt out of all forms of licensed gambling and interactive lotteries.
Players wishing to add their name to the list can do so by contacting the IAUI with all of their information, in-person at a gambling venue or remotely via a dedicated website.
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