75% of Cypriots gamble and 6% show signs of a possible gambling addiction, while Cypriot pupils, both boys and girls gamble the most out of all pupils in the EU.
According to a European-wide survey, 22% of Cypriot pupils gamble online, while the average percentage in Europe is 16%. Offline sports betting is more popular with Cypriot pupils, since 27% of them partake in it, while the European average is at 18%. 35% of boys and 11% of girls engage in online betting, compared to a 24% and 8% respectively in the EU. In regard to offline betting, rates remain particularly high for boys (40%) compared to girls (16%). European averages are 26% and 11% respectively.
The Cyprus National Addictions Authority has prepared an Action Plan for battling pathological gambling for 2018-2020. The Action Plan defines ‘pathological gambling’ as a persistent recurring impulse to participate in all kinds of activities in which luck may lead to monetary gain and the addict’s inability to resist this impulse even though it is detrimental to themselves or to others. Gambling addicts have been shown to follow the same dependency model as that observed in addicts to psychoactive substances.
The survey data for the Cypriot population’s relationship to gambling are particularly worrying: 75% of Cypriots over 15 gamble. 81% of them are out of danger, 13% of them are possibly problematic, and 6% are considered pathological gamblers. The average age in which Cypriots start engaging in some type of gambling is 12.5. 50% of the instances the children were accompanied by their parents.
The Action Plan lists the methods that can be implemented in order to alleviate the problem. Preventative intervention is key: its effectiveness of preventive intervention is based on its ability to affect one or more risk factors. Priority should be given to educating and changing societal attitudes towards gambling. It is also necessary to create a protective environment of support for minors, young people and othervulnerable groups in order to prevent pathological gambling.
Another goal set in the Action Plan is to effectively address negative mental states (stress, depression, loneliness, etc.) stemming from gambling addiction. A priority will be to ensure that all groups (bothe minors and adults and especially the ‘vulnerable population’) can benefit from specialised treatment. More practices suggested are the development of epidemiological indicators, a better monitoring of the phenomenon through the creation of recording and evaluation mechanisms, and the promotion of exchange of best practices with other EU Member States.