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Estonia – Problem gambling shifts online

By - 17 December 2012

According to a new survey, all types of gambling have seen a decline across the board in Estonia as compared to a similar poll in 2010, but some at-risk players say their problems have deepened, while in general people – including minors – are gravitating toward online forms of gambling.

The conclusion of the TNS Emor survey states: “A noteworthy share of youths have gambled even though they should actually not even have access to gambling due to age restrictions established by legislation. “In spite of the age restrictions, youths have played (online and in environments other than the Internet) casino games, they have taken part in betting and sports predictions, played lotteries and instant lotteries. For instance; one in four people aged 15 say they have played the lottery in environments other than the Internet; and of those aged 15–20 one in 10 claims to have played casino games or poker on the Internet.”

Gaming addiction and advising center’s psychologist Pille-Riin Kaare said that the majority of gamblers who seek help no longer physically go to casinos, but play online. Kaare said the gambling situation has improved since 2007 and 2008, a time period that could be called the glory days of Estonian casinos.

“Prevention work to this date has been efficient,” said Kaare and complimented the state’s work on preventing addiction. This includes creating a casino blacklist system where people with problems can set self-prohibitions, requiring ID at the door of Estonian casinos, including their online counterparts. But online gamblers find ways to slip through the cracks, such as using ID cards of relatives or friends to keep playing, said Kaare. Online gamblers were also more likely to say they did not notice information on gambling help resources.

One in two people in Estonia say they have gambled. Younger persons, ethnic Estonians, males and higher-educated people are more likely to have done so. Five percent of people in Estonia fall into the category of ‘problem gambler’; this accounts for 10 percent of gamblers. The most popular types of gambling continue to be lotteries and drawings in environments other than the Internet, followed by online lotteries, card games in environments other than the Internet, and casino slot machines. The minimum age to access casinos in Estonia is 21. Eighteen is the minimum for betting on outcomes of sports events, and 16 for participating in lotteries.

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