It is often said that more gambling (including playing the lottery) takes place during economic crises, but a study carried out by researchers at Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) indicates that the opposite is true: in the last year, people have decreased the frequency of gambling activities, the number of gambling activities participated in and the amount of money gambled.
The gambling industry has not escaped the changes in people's habits and behavior that the crisis has produced. This is one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the latest report on Spaniards' perception of games of chance, carried out by UC3M's Instituto de Política y Gobernanza (IPOLGOB -- Institute for Politics and Governance) in collaboration with the Codere Foundation and the Centro de Estudios de Políticas y Legislación del Juego (Center for Gambling Policy and Legislation Studies). "The novelty in 2012 was that the frequency with which people gambled as well as the number of games and quantity of money they gambled decreased," the report reveals. "The amount gambled is controlled in all households, including the wealthier ones, and this situation especially affects the lower-middle classes and immigrants," comments one of the authors of the study, José Antonio Gómez Yañez, a professor in UC3M's Political Science and Sociology Department.
The proportion spent on gambling as a part of the leisure expenditures has decreased from 9.4 to 7.7 percent. In fact, when there are economic problems in a household, spending on gambling nearly disappears, with only small amounts still being spent on certain types of public games of chance. "When there is an economic crisis, what goes up is the demand for luck, particularly those types of gambling that carry with them 'hope', the idea that a stroke of luck that costs very little money may bring relief or even take care of the rest of their life," points out professor Gómez Yañez. "Spaniards' relationship with gambling is very rational and cold," he adds, "as nearly the entire population of Spain (over 85%) gambles in some form, but they do so in a very objective way that is dominated by social customs.
Unauthorized online gambling websites
In 2012, Ley 13/2011 (Law 13/2011), Gambling Regulation, was established. It was approved by the Parliament as "a somewhat belated and hasty attempt to regulate an existing reality -- online gambling -- that for the public administration was too big to manage," comments another one of the study's authors, José Ignacio Cases, Professor Emeritus of UC3M. Although the regulation and concession of licenses has cleaned up the panorama of online gambling, in the report "we clearly present one piece of unquestionable data: unauthorized websites are still open; they create unfair competition for operators who are legally authorized to offer their product in Spanish territory and, in addition, they cause a major loss of revenue for the Government," denounces Professor Cases.
The percentage of the people interviewed who reported having gambled on Internet during the previous three months was 4.2 percent of those between ages 18 and 75. This came to 1,470,000 individuals, a somewhat higher number than the number reported by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (government gambling regulatory body). "The reason for this no doubt lies in that part of these gamblers seem to still be using unauthorized websites," the researchers indicate. "Although the information offered by interviewees in this respect may not be completely reliable, 21.4% stated that they had not registered on any gambling website recently, which suggests that illegal websites continue to be in operation."
The report reveals other data with regard to online gambling. The sociological profile of these gamblers is basically that of "Net users," that is, younger people (79% of them are under 45), mostly men (64,8%) and a large percentage who can be classified as upper or upper-middle class. One characteristic of Internet gambling is that the participants gambled a considerable sum of money: an average of 37.1€ per month. Geographically, they are concentrated in Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia. Moreover, more that half of them take part in sports betting and poker in its various versions, although this is being regulated as a means of access to the games organized by public operators (SELAE and ONCE), which receive a large portion of the money that is moved by Internet gambling.
Materials provided by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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