Anton Kuchukhidze: Myths About Mass Gambling Addiction in Ukraine

In this article, Anton Kuchukhidze, Head of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, explores the topic of the spread of gambling addiction, which is constantly discussed in media headlines and “expert” circles. Despite the often mentioned “pandemic of gambling addiction” and the risks associated with the legalization of gambling, upon deeper analysis it becomes clear that gambling addiction is not a mass phenomenon, and the number of addicted gamblers is believed to be in the hundreds, not “tens of thousands” that opponents of the reform claim.

In his blogs, Kuchukhidze repeatedly emphasizes that gambling addiction in Ukraine cannot be a mass phenomenon. Only about 8% of Ukrainians show interest in gambling, while more than 92% have never tried to gamble for money. Research has clearly shown that this is not a crisis situation. In 2023, only 1018 people were included in the Register of Persons Restricted from Access to Gambling Establishments.

The Head of the UGC reviewed several key aspects reflecting the real state of affairs with gambling addiction in Ukraine:

First: the specifics of the players. It should be taken into account that not all citizens of Ukraine are interested in gambling. Many people prefer other types of entertainment; they have not played and do not gamble. This makes gambling addiction more of an individual phenomenon rather than a widespread trend.

Second: regulation of the industry. The Ukrainian gambling Commission is taking decisive measures to regulate the industry and prevent the widespread gambling addiction. There are a number of restrictions on advertising of gambling, information work is being carried out to prevent the spread of gambling addiction, and the improvement of the State Online Monitoring System (SOMS) continues. 

Third: the social responsibility of licensed gambling operators. Many gambling operators in Ukraine are making efforts to combat gambling addiction and are introducing social responsibility programs. They not only comply with legal requirements, but also introduce their own initiatives to inform players about the dangers of gambling addiction, collaborate with specialized organizations and improve mechanisms for self-restraint of players.

Fourth: the fight against the illegal operators. This is truly a key aspect in the fight against the spread of gambling addiction. The illegal gambling market poses many more threats to players than the legal one. Illegal gambling establishments and online platforms do not care about the gaming behavior of players and do not adhere to social responsibility standards.

There is a problem with gambling addiction in Ukraine, but there is no need to panic or use the term “pandemic of gambling addiction” without understanding the context. A pandemic is characterized by the rapid and unstoppable spread of something harmful, something that we simply do not register in the case of gambling addiction. 

Organizations and legal operators are actively preventing this problem and practicing social responsibility. To effectively combat gambling addiction, it is necessary to continue information work, cooperation of all interested parties and the fight against illegal operators, who are the main source of the spread of gambling addiction.

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