Online gambling. Young people, contexts, risks and addiction.


David Pere Martínez Oró

Funded by:

Delegación del Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas. Convocatoria del Fondo de Bienes de Decomisados, resolución de 31 de agosto de 2018.

Since 2008, digital technologies have been implemented to enable online betting, especially for sports betting. In these ten years, the technological evolution has allowed diversifying the offer and expanding the market, with the consequent increase in the number of customers betting online. Technological advances will allow gaming companies to continue exploring markets and innovating their services to grow their business. In this sense, we hypothesize that as the digital world becomes even more central to people’s daily lives, it will be easier for bookmakers to attract new customers in a virtual environment that is familiar and familiar to them. The dynamics of virtual contexts make it possible to break the usual spatio-temporal coordinates of offline (face-to-face) businesses and stores. In the gaming sector, the rupture of spatio-temporal logics makes it possible to gamble on the Internet from any geographical location and at any time. As a result, more people, detached from the classic profile of recreational or pathological gamblers, are interested in online gambling, with a consequent increase in the number of customers. The possibility of playing 24 hours a day stimulates compulsive gambling and facilitates marathon sessions, so the risk of developing an addiction increases considerably.

In Spain, historically, gambling has never been considered as a business because of its peculiarity and the recognition of the disastrous consequences it can cause. Most of the money invested by Spaniards was to play in state bets with a large popular and community component (El Gordo de Navidad, El Niño, La Primitiva or quinielas). In recent years, the socio-cultural dynamics of gambling have changed. Among other consequences, we have lost the protection factor that understood gambling as something linked to the annual cycle and shared by friends, family and neighbors. This situation makes it possible for online gambling to easily become compulsive, individual and silent. In the sociocultural sphere, the community elements that functioned as a protection mechanism are being diluted, and there is no informal social control in online gambling. This situation invites us to hypothesize that gambling problems, in the coming years, if the situation is not reversed, will become more prevalent and serious scenario.