The Estonian Government has signed a new directive to help combat and alleviate problem gambling among the country’s population.
Government to Aid in Recovery
Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik has signed a directive that will secure €200,000 to MTÜ Gambling Addiction Counseling Center – a non-government organization that aims to monitor problem gambling and provide a center to help addicts and their families deal with the problems stemming from the addiction.
The strategic partnership application was launched this October and extends the government’s ability to cooperate with and empower problem-gambling-orientated NGOs in their development, growth and maintenance.
Currently, the center provides free psychological counseling to over 200 problem gamblers and plans on offering debt counseling as well.
Problem Gambling on the Rise
The Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs has recently revealed that around 7% of Estonia’s population is at risk of developing a pathological gambling addiction. The Ministry has stressed that it is paramount to offer comprehensive psychological and financial counseling to affected individuals.
The Ministry is particularly interested in understanding and monitoring the development of gambling addiction in minors. In order to do this, it plans on conducting a long-term study on the matter, accompanied by support program for addicts and their families.
MTÜ Gambling Addiction Counseling Centre Head Pille-Riin Indermitte believes that the global Covid-19 pandemic has helped catalyze the growth of gambling addiction among young people and adults. According to Ms. Indermitte, gambling behavior spiked initially when the pandemic struck as a means of spending time. However, as the addiction deepens it bleeds into the person’s private life, replacing all other interests and interfering with other obligations, the MTÜ head believes.
Ms. Indermitte continued: “On the other hand, the increase in gambling is due to the hope to improve our financial situation when employment opportunities have decreased. We are pleased to pilot a support group service and, for the first time, to carry out a study on the spread of gambling and digital addiction problems among minors in Estonia.”
A Global Problem
Estonia is not the only jurisdiction that has set its eye on problem gambling, nor is it alone in the dramatic increase of gambling addiction. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered similar developments across the world.
Notable examples include the UK, which has recently halted gambling treatment during a lockdown or the US State of Texas, which is experiencing a surge in gambling addiction. Problem gambling has been a particularly noteworthy problem among athletes as well. In fact, Premier League side Southampton recently launched a mobile app that aims to provide discrete support for addicts and people at risk of developing an addiction.