Gambling in Western and Eastern Europe: The example of Hungary

Abstract

The history of gambling in post-socialist countries is noticeably different from that of other countries in Europe. The goal of this study was therefore twofold: Firstly, to systematically review all European epidemiological studies related to excessive gambling in the general adult population, and secondly, to provide an overview of the state of gambling in Hungary based on the first ever nationwide representative survey, setting the results against the backdrop of the earlier European studies. A systematic review was carried out of European gambling studies which focus on a representative adult general population. Hungarian data was obtained from the National Survey on Addiction Problems in Hungary general adult population survey (N = 2,710). Pathological gambling was measured by the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Lifetime prevalence of excessive gambling (problem and pathological gambling) in the general adult population of European countries varies between 1.1% (Italy and Spain) and 6.5% (Estonia). In Hungary, the prevalence of problem gambling is 1.9%, with pathological gambling at 1.4%. The socio-demographic characteristics of the results are similar to those of other European countries. Using epidemiological data from the general adult populations of two post-socialist nations, it was possible to compare the results with data from 12 other European countries. Based on the data available, the extremely rapid liberation of the gambling market in the post-socialist countries has led to a similarly swift escalation in associated gambling problems.

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