Online Gambling COVID-19

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Anti-virus protection measures tempt more citizens to visit online casinos

In uncharted waters, online gambling in our country is constantly evolving and control is limited. The government is trying to establish a regulatory framework, restrict illegal sites and protect citizens, with a bill that would require companies to have online gambling licenses and other gambling licenses. The bill has also been tabled in the Commission and will be in consultation until April 1st. However, online gambling is a global phenomenon, with users constantly finding new outlets and gambling sites multiplying.

The biggest trap for online gambling is easy access from home to online casinos, where anyone can play at any time. In the current period of measures against the spread of coronavirus, players are more enticed as they spend more hours at home. But the prevalence of e-gambling at a young age is a major concern. From minors to people over 30, everyone has quick access to pages that play "slots", roulette and poker in addition to betting. This increase may not yet have been documented by scientific research, but it is being observed by gambling addicts.

More and more young people are building gambling profiles

"We are seeing an increase in young people gambling because of the internet," says Eleni Voutika, head of KETHEA Alpha, which deals with gambling addiction. “Young people and teenagers are familiar with mobile phones and… the doors to online gambling are constantly opening up,” notes Voutika.

Initially, online betting companies were attractive because they offered users the opportunity to bet simultaneously with the broadcast of a match. But online casinos have been gaining ground in recent years. They allow people to be transported from their home to the luxurious large red carpet halls where the sound of roulette ball and paper shuffle is heard. "As they create a media account, they can easily create an account with online gambling companies and websites. Usually minors use PayPal or Paysafe to buy gambling, rather than credit card purchases, ”says Philemonas Tzovaras, a psychologist who works in the Department of Developmental Medicine at Hippocrates and participates in teenage drug addiction programs. "Usually at the age of 15 to 20, children are limited because they still receive money from their parents. In contrast, an adult worker can spend his money uncontrollably through a platform, ”the psychologist notes, confirming that he is seeing an increase in young people with gambling. "These kids build the profile of an addict, we can't say they are addicted," Mr. Tzovaras said. “Dependence has duration and some specific quality characteristics. But online platforms are something new that we still don't know how it can evolve, ”he says.

Gaming can lead to gambling

There may be many factors that drive a teenager - but also an adult - into gambling addiction. Minors can be affected by things that seem innocent at first. "Many students are beginning to become accustomed to online gambling through their online shopping, such as Fortnite," says Philemonas Tzovaras. Of course, as a psychologist says, a child can also be affected by his or her own family. "The ... germ can get in even when the parent takes the child to the betting agency," he notes.

"Gambling is a multifactorial phenomenon," says Eleni Voutika, explaining that there are many that affect an addiction. “It depends on the characteristics of each person and their psychology. Of course, there are also factors that are related to the family or to a situation in society, such as the financial crisis. " According to her, during the financial crisis many people tried to find solutions to their dead ends through gambling. "One can start out as a social player but through the data available about himself and society, he can become a problem player," he says.

When does anxiety start?

According to experts, there are some signs that betray gambling addicts. Addicts… add to their gambling frequency and gradually raise more and more money. Usually one who exhibits addictive traits stops focusing on the money he loses and talks only about what he earns, even if he is small. There is also a change in his behavior, as he shows outbursts of anger and indignation and begins to lie.

KETHEA Alpha's manager does not hide that it is difficult to detect someone who is addicted to gambling, as well as admit it. "If someone is addicted to drugs, he first looks at his image. In the case of gambling, however, most are functional and there does not seem to be a problem in their lives. " Mr Tzovaras points out that parents have to worry about their child when they see him or her isolated and confined to the house to play.

"I started for fun ..."

"I was not a gambler," 24-year-old Thanasis tells MTK. "I started playing slots online for fun, but then I got stuck." He says he started playing systematically when he first made a lot of money. He now gambles on the internet for at least 2-3 hours a day, and has been able to shut down for 10 hours over the cellphone, watching slots turn around and his money slashing.

As time went by, 23-year-old Sakis, a student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, started looking for online casinos. "It all starts when you make a lot of money. When I got 500 euros from the 'slots', I started playing every day and now it has become an addiction. " The 23-year-old originally visited websites only to play bets, but now he is trying to win bets so he can play "slots". “I choose the game I will play, based on the odds I have had at other times. Apart from 'slots', I play roulette and blackjack, "he says.

"My mind is there all day," admits Mtk, a 30-year-old Kimon. It first started gambling online in 2016, but in the last couple of years gambling has become mainstream. "I try to be at home most of the day so I can play because I don't want to play in front of people," he says.

However, there are few who come in and play gambling - especially "slots" - even when they are having coffee with their friends or at work. "Some friends who made fun of me and urged me to stop, eventually got stuck too. I believe it is… contagious! They are tempted because they can easily have it on their mobile phones, ”says 24-year-old Thanasis.

The effect of ... coronavirus

"After the measures for the coronavirus, I now play every day," says 30-year-old Kimonas. The restriction at home, as expected, has given many people the opportunity and time to gamble online. "In recent days I have been seeing ads with online casinos calling themselves safe places to play because of the coronavirus," says 24-year-old Thanassis, who admits to giving in as he has more free time.

For his part, the 30-year-old emphasizes that because of the increase in internet players, in recent days ... it is not reporting! "I believe that at this point in time, companies are taking advantage of the situation and making no profit to the players," he says.

The ... action in numbers

Almost all gambling sites require a bank account for transactions. They even ask for further documents with identifying details. Users, of course, wanting to avoid major catastrophes do not always link to credit cards but play with PayPal and Paysafe.

"In one day I have lost 1.100 euros by playing 'slots' on a website," says the 24-year-old who talks to MTK, with most having won a game at 700 euros. On the other hand, 23-year-old Sakis spends at least 300 euros a month on online gambling. At least four companies visit 30-year-old Kimonas to play gambling. Like most, it studies the returns of companies and sees that they give the most bonuses. "Most of the money I have earned is 6.000 euros. To top it off, I used to play two nights in a row from 12pm to 6am, ”Kimonas says, without commenting on how many thousands of euros he has lost.

Self-exclusion holds for a while

As with the casinos available on the blacklist, so can online oneself be excluded. Thanasis, in a moment of indignation, excluded himself from some pages, but soon visited another. “At some point, they might shake things up and try to make a little abstinence. However, they are quickly getting back into the process because their dependency is important. After all, a man who would be a social player would not exclude himself, nor would he try to win the losers, "explains KETHEA Alpha's manager Eleni Voutika.

"In the beginning, they give you profits to addict you, even if you play 20 euros a month," says the 24-year-old about the way companies go online. "You can spend 800 euros in two weeks and in one day you can earn 1.000 euros. It's up to you to do what you do, ”Kimonas says.

Calls to KETHEA have increased

More calls were received by KETHEA Alpha in 2019, compared to 2018, from people who were addicted to gambling. Specifically, 1.960 calls were recorded, and the waiting list for the support program is quite large. At KETHEA Alpha, the primary goal is abstinence and then the individual's mental detachment through a special counseling program. “Still young people don't knock on our door because they can't understand their addiction because gambling is not illegal. Also, they show no signs to the rest, so there is no concern from their relatives, ”says program director Eleni Voutika.

Online show and pick up at home

There are not many who just like to see others play. In these cases, they are not looking for the cash reward but the adrenaline offered by a gamble. Giannis Maniatis, who works on a betting website and online casino, daily presents an online gambling show. He plays "slots" live for at least four hours a day, with users watching and chatting with him. “They like to see if I'm going to win, how I'm going to play and how much I'm going to make. Of course, in addition to the 'fruit', in live chat we talk about other issues, even the coronavirus, "he says in the MTK. According to him, this is a phenomenon that comes from abroad and has been constantly developing for the last six years. "In my live shows, I see mostly college students and people over 30," he said of his audience.

Likewise, large groups gather in homes, connect their cell phones to the TV and play "fruit" together. “We usually put all our money in the same interest. We spend many nights in this way of fun, "says Thanasis.

* Posted in “MTK” on March 22, 2020

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