Questions raised after German study finds sharp rise in problem gambling

Questions raised after German study finds sharp rise in problem gambling

Politicians and industry experts have raised questions about the methodology used.

Germany.- A study released by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) has stirred controversy after predicting that the number of people addicted to gambling in the country more than tripled in five years. The study, announced by health minister Karl Lauterbach, estimates that 1.3 million German adults are addicted to gambling. That compares to an official figure of 400,000 in 2019.

The study estimated that 8 per cent of people aged 18 to 70 have some form of gambling addiction.

However, opposition politicians, industry experts and the German sports betting association, DSWV, have questioned the methodology used. Until 2019, gambling addiction research was conducted by the Federal Centre for Health Education. However, the Hamburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Addiction and Drug Research (ISD) is now responsible for the research. Critics question how the data was produced only three months after an application was made for funding for the work. 

Simone Borchardt of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) suggested that there was “reason to suspect that agreements were made between the study authors and the BMG in advance. In my view, this casts considerable doubt on the neutrality of the study.” 

The DSWV claimed that there was no explanation for the sudden increase in gambling addiction, noting that turnover from regulated gambling has remained stable. It cited Katharina Schüller, head of consulting business Stat-up, who raised concerns about the “questionable precision and lack of transparency” of the study and argued that it was “not a reliable basis for decision-making on the evaluation and adaptation of legal regulations”.

German gambling regulator opposes proposed criminal code changes

Meanwhile, the new German gambling regulator, the GGL, has appealed against proposed changes to Germany’s criminal code, known as the Strafgesetzbuch. It says the changes could reduce its ability to take enforcement action against offshore gambling operations and could also harm work to prevent money laundering.

GGL co-president Ronald Benter has said that the regulator had asked the movement to reconsider the amendments that would affect the application of Article 284. This article allows federal bodies like the GGL to work directly with the public prosecution office to undertake criminal investigations. The GGL uses this article to fight gambling operators located overseas.

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