Has gambling changed after major amendments of gambling regulations in Germany? A propensity score analysis

Abstract

Aims: This study examined changes in general population gambling in the light of two major amendments of the German gambling regulation, the Fifth Amendment of the German Gambling Ordinance (AGO) for commercial amusement machines with prizes (AWP) and the State Treaty on Gambling (STG) for gambling activities subject to the state monopoly. Methods: Applying cross-sectional data from the 2006 and 2009 Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse (ESA), propensity-score-matched samples of 7,970 subjects and 3,624 12-month gamblers aged 18-64 years were used for analyses. Logistic regression was employed to examine changes in gambling controlling for possible confounding variables. Results: Overall participation in state gambling activities, participation in lotto as well as TV lottery decreased and gambling on Internet card games increased. No changes were found for any other gambling activity, 12-month prevalence of any gambling and pathological gambling. While weekly gambling declined, overall multiple gambling increased. Effects were similar in the total sample and among current gamblers. Conclusions: Prohibiting specific gambling activities, e.g., Internet gambling, seem to be insufficient approaches to change gambling behavior. Supply reduction might need to be enhanced by changes in game characteristics and implementation of early intervention measures. However, long-term consequences are uncertain and further monitoring is needed.

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