Anton Kuchukhidze: A Question of “Problem Gambling” in Ukraine is a Myth

More than two years have passed since the legalization of gambling in Ukraine. The hypothesis that legalized casinos will lead to a pandemic of gambling addiction and that every second pensioner will go and lose his pension on slot machines has always been a key thesis of the opponents of legalization. Of course, this did not happen, but proponents of the prohibition of gambling continue to artificially inflate the fake topic of gambling.

The legalization of gambling in Ukraine has not led to a surge in gambling addiction, which was predicted by illegal gambling lobbyists and populists. Prior to the legalization of gambling, there were no mechanisms for self-restriction of players or restrictions on the part of immediate family members at all. Just like today there are no official statistics showing that the legalization of gambling has led to an increase in gambling addiction.

On the other hand, opinion polls statistically confirm that Ukrainians practically do not gamble and that there is no global problem of gambling addiction.

First, 92.8% of Ukrainians had no gambling experience at all, and only 8.2% said they would like to gamble at least once in the future. In other words, the level of public interest in gambling fluctuates around 8%.

Secondly, over 43% support the legalization of gambling. Respondents cited an increase in state revenues in the form of license fees and taxes as the main benefits of the reform. This means that almost half of the population is rational about gambling. In most cases, people, unlike legal gambling operators, are not interested in providing quality services to players and do not care about the safety of players. They do not want to gamble, but they realize that the legalization of gambling will increase revenues for the government.

One of the factors contributing to the spread of gambling in Ukraine is the presence of illegal gambling halls and establishments that continue to operate even in wartime. Unlike legal gambling operators, they are not interested in providing quality services to players and do not care about the safety of players. Instead, he creates all the conditions for people to play more and lose more. Such a fraudulent approach leads to the spread of gambling addiction.

Legal gambling is an entertainment, a service, a quality pastime, while illegal gambling is an attempt to deceive players and make money in any way possible. Therefore, in order to effectively combat the mild gambling addiction that still exists in Ukraine, it is necessary to suppress the activities of illegal workers by all means.

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