The Spanish penchant for recreational gambling is making headlines following a study revealing that over 80% of adults engage in some form of gambling for amusement, a figure that underscores the significance of this pastime in the nation’s entertainment landscape.
The newly published 2023 Game and Society survey unveiled a staggering number – 22.9 million individuals, equivalent to 83.9% of the Spanish populace aged 18 to 75 years, have partaken in gambling over the past year. The study, diligently collated by the Gaming Business Council in collaboration with the Murcia Recreational Federation, is assembled annually to track gambling trends and behaviors.
Beyond being a popular pastime, the research highlighted that the majority of Spaniards considered gambling as a conventional element of their amusement roster. Although the types of gambling indulged in varies widely, the common denominator remains the pursuit of entertainment.
Excluding lotteries, a preferred choice for 66% of the population, a notable 17.9% frequented casinos, gaming and bingo halls, sportsbooks, and similar establishments. The results suggest that these individuals place a high premium on the sheer joy derived from these activities, as opposed to financial gain.
Indeed, 61% acknowledged losses as a necessary cost of the merriment derived from gambling, akin to expenses accrued for visiting the theater or watching a live soccer game. A majority have no intention of recovering losses, accepting it as part of the monetary exchange for a good time.
However, the study also pointed out a segment of the population, approximately 15%-20%, that abstain from gambling. This group is driven by ideological, religious beliefs, or the fear of losing and subsequent feelings of rejection. Interestingly, a large contingent of this group comprises adults below the age of 25, contrary to the presumption that younger individuals form the majority of gamblers.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the gambling landscape in 2020, forcing temporary closures of gambling establishments, leading to a marked decrease in gambling activity. That year, the percentage of individuals engaged in games dropped to 80.9%, closely mirroring 2013 figures (80.3%). However, the numbers rebounded to pre-pandemic levels with 82.4% in 2021 and 83.9% in the most recent year.
To quell concerns surrounding problematic gambling, data from a complementary study provided comforting figures. Estimates suggested fewer than 8,000 individuals in Spain suffer from gaming disorders, which figuratively equates to 0.02% of the population aged between 18 to 75 years. This is notably lower than standard classifications for rare conditions.
It’s crucial to underline that these findings do not negate the importance of responsible gambling initiatives. There’s ample need to continue investigations and implement strategies to address relevant issues flowing from the activity. A specific study based on 116 patients from local clinics found a 97.4% correlation between gambling disorders and other mental health conditions.
Internationally and particularly in Western Europe, potential problematic gambling rates unveiled in country-specific surveys show a downward trend. Most Western European countries report rates below 0.5%, with a majority even falling below 0.3%. Spain is aligned with other European nations such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, and France, exhibiting a consistently low figure.