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Increase in gambling addiction since the legalization of online gambling: clinics

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Clinics in the Netherlands have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people struggling with gambling addiction since a law change legalized online gambling in October 2021. Addicts are also younger than they look usually are, and some are in debt of tens of thousands of dollars, Trouw reports after speaking to addiction clinics and helplines.

No one officially keeps figures on gambling addiction, so it’s hard to say for sure that there’s a correlation with the change in gambling law. But the clinics are concerned, according to the newspaper.

Hervitas, a gambling addiction institution in Zeist, reported 50% more addicts than before online gambling became legal. “You can feel in your hooves that it has something to do with each other,” director Fred Slteutel told Trouw. According to him, most drug addicts are between 22 and 35 years old and a “small group” has big financial problems. “Debts of 50,000 euros are no exception.”

The Trimbos Institute also noted an increase. A study by Ipsos showed that the legalization of online gambling has not greatly increased the number of online gamblers, but the amounts involved have increased. It could indicate more addiction.

Minister Franc Weerwind for Legal Protection will speak to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, on Thursday about gambling law.