The growth in TV gambling advertising is mirroring an exponential rise in mobile gaming, and in just the past few weeks it’s inspired an investigation from the BBC, whose Newsbeat page revealed figures from GamCare – the UK-based gambling advice service helping victims of addiction – suggesting that the number of 18-35 year olds contacting the hotline has risen for the third consecutive year.
Rises in problem gambling
GamCare’s figures showed more than 60% of their calls in the past 12 months were from that age group, and that smartphone and online betting are playing a big part in the rise of young people developing gambling problems.
As with all forms of gambling, risks of addiction threaten, and with easier access to mobile devices it’s no surprise that problem gambling has risen. While it’s true that gambling is more widely available these days, it doesn’t mean regulation has gone out the window. Mobile casino firms take security very seriously, and as such have stringent ID checks to prevent underage gambling, as well as complex security measures in place to stop money laundering and ID theft.
And mindful of the ease with which gamblers can place bets, some online casinos and gambling sites have started initiating self-imposed ‘fail safe’ betting limits for gamblers to ensure they stay within their means. Tools like Playscan have been developed that can help do that. It’s certainly a little more effective than a gambling addict walking into his local bookies and telling the manager to stop him putting any bets on or having a spin of any one of the thousands of fixed-odds betting terminals that are so readily available.
It’s not just the increasing availability of gambling apps and sites; smartphones and tablets with increasing firepower are letting people access a wider range of mobile gambling options at the palm of their hands nowadays. Regardless of where they are, with a stroke of a finger people can do almost anything that they would only be able to do using a computer a few years ago.
With these technologies making their way into almost every aspect of our daily lives, mobile phone addiction – never mind gambling – is huge now.A phenomenon is emerging in the UK called ‘nomophobia’, or ‘no-mobile-phone-phobia’ with owners terrified of losing their phone or the battery dying on them unexpectedly.
Many mobile casino games available today feature cutting-edge technology pushing these devices to their limit, with 3D graphics, high-quality sound effects and a smooth gaming experience. With the rising availability of mobile casino options and their high accessibility, cases of mobile gambling addiction are obviously going to rise.
But are the figures skewed?
Where, for example, are the figures of new players to these mobile gaming sites who a) have never played mobile slots and were perhaps too intimidated to go into a bricks ‘n’ mortar casino to play before, and b) who enjoy mobile slots perfectly safely, within their means, and without the need to borrow a payday loan to feed their habit.
Unfortunately, the press will never report on gambling as a leisure activity, rather highlighting the problems it causes. And surely with wider access to games today than ever before, it will lead to even more stringent ID checks and security.
At the end of the day, won’t everyone be a winner?