The current phase of regulation of the gambling market in EU jurisdictions is now almost over. Following the Spanish Gambling Regulation Act reaching the statute book, there is only one big jurisdiction left which has not yet regulated its gambling industry according to the EU legislation and European Commission (EC) directives – Germany. Other jurisdictions, such as Greece and Denmark, have yet to complete their journey to regulation, but they are not that far from the finishing line.It is no secret that many countries were pushed into changing their legislation by court cases brought by commercial operators and infringements proceedings started by the EC. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that some governments had to be dragged kicking and screaming to allow private operators into the national gambling market. Many countries did the minimum amount that was sufficient to stop EU infringement proceedings and designed regulatory frameworks that favoured, if not outright protected, their state-owned gambling monopolies. Additionally, just to make sure that commercial operators are not too successful, these same governments also imposed a high tax rate. France is a classic case study of this course of action and to a certain extent Spain and Greece are following French footsteps. Germany cannot bring itself to walk even that far.Within this mix, regulators are given a wide remit to keep a check on commercial operators. ARJEL in France is fairly aggressive in making sure that commercial operators do not infringe the regulations, and even more aggressive with those who do not obtain a French licence but who continue to operate in France.The role of regulators has up to now not been sufficiently analysed. Are they independent entities who regulate the market, similar to a Financial Services Authority or a Central Bank for the financial sector? Or are regulators in the gambling industry solely an arm of the country’s executive?So far, the pattern of behaviour of gambling regulators leads observers to think that they act more like the arm of governments than independent referees.Where state-owned gambling operators have a large market share and are protected by law from competition in certain sectors like lotteries, the behaviour of regulators tends to be important, not only as a matter of fairness, but from the point of view of enabling a truly competitive market. There is something wrong when the state controls the biggest firm or firms in the market and at the same time makes the rules through the regulator.France is the case in point. The state controlled PMU and FDJ’s dominant position in land-based gambling activities (where they are protected by law) allowed them to gain a competitive advantage in online activities, even thought the law states they have to separate their land-based and online businesses. It took the European Gaming and Betting Association’s complaint to the French Competition Authority (FCA), and the subsequent non-binding opinion of the FCA stating that PMU and FDJ behaviour distorts the market to raise the issue. This is a classic case where the regulator should have intervened. One of ARJEL’s declared missions, after all, is to ensure compliance by operators.One has to wonder if the reluctance, or frustration, of certain governments in allowing commercial gambling operators to trade is being reproduced in the actions of regulatory bodies.It is in the interest of a properly functioning market that gambling regulatory bodies are independent, and seen to be independent. Additionally, regulatory bodies need to acquire high calibre professionals with expertise of the gambling industry and the required skill sets to allow them to conduct their supervisory role for Industry Trends in an efficient manner.It is what everyone expects for regulators in the media/broadcast or financial sectors, why should it be any different for the gambling industry?
What are some of the causes of a gambling addiction? As a former gambler and mental health counselor, I have done a lot of research on why people develop a gambling problem. What I have found is that there is more than one cause of gambling addiction and that although it is important to know the cause, the solution is much more important.Here are some of the many causes of gambling addiction:o Gambling is exciting while the gambler is in action. The adrenaline high feels good, and it is quite easy to become addicted to these “feel good” chemicals in our brain.
o Gambling compulsively may fill a void for many people with a gambling problem. This void could be in many areas of one’s life. Poor social life, loneliness, job dissatisfaction, empty-nest syndrome, boredom, and lack of purpose can all contribute to a gambling addiction.
o A big win at the casino is the worst possible event for anyone with a propensity for addiction. The adrenaline high of a huge jackpot can fuel future addiction like jet fuel in a plane. Most, if not all people give back the winnings from their jackpot, plus much more money as well.
o Escape from emotional pain and psychological distress can also fuel a gambling disorder. This is especially true for “escape gamblers” who mostly play slot machines, lottery, or partake in online internet gambling.
o For “action gamblers”, the craving for action and feeling very important to others can fuel a gambling addiction. Action gamblers are mostly male and are usually sports betters, poker players, and racetrack gamblers.
o The thrill of “easy money” can fuel a gambling addiction, especially if the gambling addict has a long string of wins at the beginning of his or her gambling career.
o People with anxiety and/or depression have show a strong propensity for gambling problem as well as other addictions.
o People with first degree relatives with a gambling addiction have a stronger propensity to develop this addiction themselves.These are just some of the general causes of a gambling problem, however, there are many more as well. In addition, each unique individual will have different reasons for having a problem with gambling, and no two situations are the same.The most important thing, however, is that once some of the causes of a gambling problem are established, that the individual seeks immediate help for his or her problem.The solutions, which include abstinence from gambling, professional help, and support groups, self-care, and lifestyle changes are most important in reclaiming ones’ life from a gambling addiction.
Since time immemorial, human beings have started indulging in formatted games of chance or gambling as they are more formally known there is not a single society or culture which has not experienced the over-whelming influence this game had on shaping its thoughts, beliefs and course of events. For people indulging in these games it elevated to a special significance, moving from merely being a game to a passion, an indulgence that consummated their senses, their decisions and even their existence. All other concerns became secondary receding to the back of the mind while hands, eye and brain became synchronized into shelving that deck of cards.As far as India is concerned, if mythology is to be believed, we had more then requisite share of gambling affecting our socio-economic as well as political order. Pundits still argue that Mahabharata was nothing but the second stage of what was initially a mere board game with dice. Entire kingdoms, valor, pride and even modesty were hedged as a bet that eventually changed the face of Aryan superiority in the great Indian sub-continent. Then there is reference to Raja Nala of yore (of Nal-dayamanti fame) who also felled prey to the temptation of the dice. So, gambling in whatever format has often left a sinister scar on the face of humanity. Though that is changing as of now but whatever the case may be the influence of gambling has often been undeniable.The social and economic impact of gambling has attracted lots of research primarily because they were needed to bolster the arguments of two groups which are very polarized in their opinion as to the influence of gambling. Those who consider gambling a serious ill argues that gambling is an unproductive pursuit. It is a sterile activity that offers no productive value, creates no output, no money or goods are generated though considerable time and resources are absorbed in the same. Though they forget that the same logic can be applied to Disneyland, movie and other such pursuits whose sole purpose is providing recreation and any economist worth his salt will vouch that recreation is a very important activity for any thriving economy. There are others who will still maintain that gambling as a habit often comes riding on with many other behavioral disorders, a situation termed as Co-morbidity that creates strong economical disorders pertaining to an individual pushing him to bankruptcy or worse still to a life of crime but alas! There is still no conclusive research that will prove any correlation between gambling and bankruptcy or for that matter with any tangible consequence.On the other hand are those who argue with facts and figures as to how legalized gambling over a period of time has resurrected the fortunes of many a dwindling economies and save the citizens of sure bankruptcy. Casinos being highly labor intensive creates increased employment opportunities for the population around them. Facilities are built and supplementary businesses have a field day catering to the gambling tourists. The whole economy gets a boost up and millions of dollars are paid simply as tax revenues from these gambling havens. This all is done through the cash that has been attracted from outside the economy resulting in an overall profit. Las Vegas is the perfect example of such a booming economy that has turned the whole city into one giant casino and emerged as the entertainment capital of the world. Then economists also point out that there is the satisfaction of people who always wanted to gamble and in legalized economy can now gamble. This satisfaction is of paramount importance in economy and is termed as Consumer Surplus, a term that can be in theory computed for its dollar value.As far as social impact of gambling are concerned there are again divergent views. While some maintain that overall prosperity that comes along with business of gambling is good for social health it has to be kept in mind that often gambling is done in formats which are not legalized. In such situations gambling is often associated with issues like money laundering, trafficking overall corruption, etc. which are detrimental to the health of any society. Gambling, by itself is an awkward issue with most societies. They cannot deny the fact that it is hugely popular because it exists in one or the other form in almost all societies indicating that individuals by nature are prone to gambling. But then again the basic premise of gambling goes against the fabric of modern day societies where pay is equated with one’s productivity. On the other hand most formats of gambling are games of chance with little or negligible skill required and results are dependent on lady luck smiling at the gambler.This is the reason why many religions, notably Islam and Protestant faith in Christianity, are vehemently opposed to the concept of gambling as they find the idea of one person prospering at the cost of another repulsive. They consider it as a human weakness and blasphemous to think that God will not provide as per the needs of an individual and they had to turn to vices to get their needs fulfilled.As a result societies are often confused about gambling. On one hand realizing it as a great source of income and revenues they have legalized it as in different state lotteries. They treat it as giving vent to the natural urge of the citizens who will otherwise resort to illegal gambling. On the other hand they have realized the potential for devastation this seemingly innocuous activity can take place and is fighting tooth and nail to curb it. Example of this will be the betting that goes on in the sports circle like cricket, etc. Since stakes are so high people often stoop to unfair practices that are tantamount to duping innocent people involved and hence needs to be curtailed.