The COVID-19 Pandemic and Problem Gambling Online

There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has hurt a lot of people across the globe. However, in our industry, we’re primarily focused on the effects on the players themselves. They have really taken a walloping in a lot of cases, and the industry has a responsibility to make sure that people aren’t exploited during all of this.

Understanding the Current Conditions

There are two types of problem gambling that we see the most often. They come from two core issues, and while there is some overlap between them in some players, they are often very separate problems as well.

  1. Addictive Behavior – This is when the act of playing itself is the subject of addiction.
  2. Desperate Situations – This is when playing is an act of desperation to try to win money needed for some purpose.

Unfortunately, the current conditions create a hotbed of potential for both of these issues to come out. Moreover, we’ve also had a perfect storm to combine these two and create more overlap than we’ve ever seen before on a widespread scale.

The Pandemic and Addiction

We know that stress and hard times exacerbate different types of addiction. We also know that addiction to gambling is one of those that can be aggravated in this way. When you add a propensity for other mental health issues, it creates a compounding effect during this pandemic.

Gambling disorders are highly comorbid with other mental health and substance use disorders…

Source: Reviewing Two Types of Addiction – Pathological Gambling and Substance Use, Indian Psychiatric Society South Zonal Branch

People are being asked to stay home for their own safety and for the safety of others. This has gone on for several months in many areas. When you combine that with the stress of having less access to support systems in person, it’s a mess to say the least.

The Pandemic and Desperation

We have a real catch-22 situation with the current state of things. Governments can shut down businesses for safety, but that means that people aren’t able to work. Alternatively, they can keep businesses open, but that hurts everyone’s safety. It’s been difficult for a balance to be struck that doesn’t land in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” territory.

Some people are feeling some serious financial desperation right now. Despite government assistance in many places, and despite other types of assistance being given like not allowing evictions or utility shut-offs, tons of people are in major financial binds.

A non-trivial number of those people are going to be tempted to turn to online gambling out of desperation, and that has the potential to be a very serious problem if it goes unchecked.

The Responsibilities of the Industry

Thankfully, we have seen the major governing bodies like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and others step in. They have put very strict rules on what is and is not allowed when referencing the pandemic. Even private companies have made their own rules, and most top affiliates will end their relationship with individuals or groups that try to use the COVID-19 crisis to drum up interest or profits.

That’s exactly what should happen because the industry has a major responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable players. For the most part, we’ve seen the best of people instead of the worst when it comes to making these types of decisions. That reflects very favorably on the industry as a whole on the individuals and businesses who are a part of it.

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