Nearly 15,000 have voluntarily banned themselves from gambling in Latvia

Nearly 15,000 people have signed up to break their problems with gambling, according to a release from the government agency overseeing the innovative scheme.

Since it launched on January 1, 2020 the "Self-denied persons register" has received 14,620 applications from people wanting to break the gambling habit. The voluntary scheme blocks their access to gaming halls and casinos both in the real world and online, helping people with compulsive or addictive behavior to avoid repeating earlier mistakes.

In a 2019 study published by the Ministry of Health, it was found that around 16,000 people in Latvia are at risk of gambling addiction.   

Participants can register quickly and easily online at the official state portal with their name and personal identity code for a minimum of 12 months, as shown in the video above. Early applicants are being reminded to renew their commitment to the scheme.

Similar schemes have been running in neighboring Estonia and Lithuania.

Self-denial can be included in the register on a voluntary basis, and this must be done individually. Currently, during the emergency situation, an application can only be submitted remotely, using electronic identification tools for personal authentication. The registration takes effect on the day of submission of the application.
 
When entering a gaming site (both in the physical and online environment), each person must present an identity document to make sure that the person has not included himself / herself in the Register. Persons included in the register are not allowed to enter or access gambling. 
 
Signe Birne, Head of the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspectorate said the scheme was proving useful amid fears that lockdowns and similar measures might lead to a surge in online gambling. 
 
"The gambling addiction risk register is one of the tools that can help in the fight against addiction," Birne said.

During 2020 the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspectorate also provided more than 550 free psychological consultations to gamblers and their relatives, both in person and remotely. 
 
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