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Survey estimates 670,000 problem gamblers in Spain

| By Robin Harrison
A Spanish Ministry of Health study claims that an estimated 670,000 citizens aged between 15 and 64 years old either have or are at risk of developing gambling problems, though the prevalence of disordered play declined.
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The results of the Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs in Spain for 2019-20 reveal that 6.7% of the population aged 15 to 64 gambled online in 2019, up from 3.5% in the previous study, carried out between 2017 and 2018. 

The average players tended to be male, aged 38 years old, and bet on sports. 

In-person gambling was much more prevalent, with 63.6% of the population under 64 years old playing this way in 2019, up from 59.5% in the 2017-18 survey. These players, the survey noted, were male, and older. 

The most common form of gambling was lotteries, played by 94.4% of in-person gamblers, followed by instant win games such as scratchcards on 24.9% and football pools on 14.6%. 

Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) scoring system, the survey estimated that around 670,000 players had a problem, or where at risk of developing one, with gambling. 

This suggests a decline in the prevalence of disordered gambling from 2017-18, when the survey recorded a prevalence rate of 2.6%. The 2019-20 rate fell to 2.2%. 

For the first time, the survey examined consumption of drugs, alcohol and gambling among those aged 64 and older, revealing that 68.3% gambled in person. While the in-person gambling rate is higher among older people than across the wider population, online participation is significantly lower, at 2.4%. 
At-risk or problem gamblers, meanwhile, made up 1.3% of players aged 64 and above. 

The Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs in Spain was prepared using responses from 17,899 Spanish residents, with polling carried out between February and March this year. A further 1,443 people aged 64 and above were also surveyed.

It also recorded figures on compulsive internet use for the first time, which revealed an estimated 3.7% of the population aged between 15 and 64 years old – some 1.1m people – used the internet in a manner similar to addiction.

The findings have been published as Spain implements a series of new restrictions on the country’s igaming licensees, amid fears that problem gambling rates are on the rise.

This will see gambling sponsorship of sports teams banned from the end of the current football season, and ads restricted to broadcasting between the house of 1am and 5am.

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