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About 6% of Latvia's population have gambling problems

In Latvia, approximately 70 000 or 6% of the population have gambling problems, according to a study by Health Ministry (VM), Gambling Supervisory Inspection's Chief Signe Birne told Latvian Television November 5.

Approximately 16 000 or 1.3% of the population have a serious gambling addiction.

Birne said the VM study was carried out last year and this is the first study of this kind in Latvia, which shows how big the problem of gambling addiction is in our society. Such studies should be repeated regularly to observe tendencies.

Birne said that as of January 1 of this year, the single “Register of Self-Withdrawn Persons” was in place in Latvia. A gambling-addicted person can apply to be on this register, which will deny them entry to game rooms. The Inspection then sends these submissions to the gambling operators, who check customers and don't allow them to play.

“The system is really working, because the inspection has received many calls from those on the register, who subsequently make excuses, for example, saying that they wanted to only try and check how the system works,” Birne said.

The inspection representative, Magdalēna Pranaite, said that a gambling-dependent person's relatives could help to solve the problem, but must be able to spot it. This can be seen, for example, by the fact that the money goes for other purposes than it was intended for. A person with gambling addiction problems should contact a psychiatrist or a narcologist. Only a narcologist can tell if a person has an addiction problem.

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