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Prevention / Gambler Protection


Prevention / Gambler Protection

The GGL is responsible for steering the betting needs of consumers into legal and monitored paths and thereby curb the existing risk of addiction by especially adopting preventive measures. Special relevance is to be attached to this objective. The following are some of the methods that are included in GlüStV 2021 for the purpose of creating a secure gambling environment and restricting the risk of incurring financial and social damage:

  • Provider-related gambler account
  • Possibility of self-limitation
  • Stipulation of a categorical deposit limit of 1,000 EUR
  • System for an early detection of gambling addiction
  • Special provisions and controlling of advertising
  • Creation of transparency through licensed providers.


What is gambling addiction?

A gambling addiction, pathological gambling or compulsive gambling is officially recognised as being an addiction disease - Gambling Disorder -. ICD-10* classifies pathological gambling as being an abnormal habit and impulse control disorder (F63), it being defined as follows:

“The disorder comprises a frequent and repeated episodic gambling that has control over the lifestyle of the patient concerned, resulting in a decline of social, professional, material and family values and obligations“.

In the case of compulsive gambling, the person concerned is controlled by desire to gamble without him or her being able to resist the gambling impulse. The disease normally develops insidiously so that it is often very difficult to draw a clear line between enjoyment and addiction.

*ICD-10 is the 10th version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list from the World Health Organisation (WHO).


In DSM-V** pathological gambling is classified as being an addictive disorder and is defined with the following characteristics:1

Diagnosis criteria for pathological gambling as defined in DSM-V

  1. The necessity of gambling with increasing wagers in order to achieve the desired level of excitement,
  2. restlessness and irritability when attempting to restrict the gambling or stop it;
  3. repeated unsuccessful attempts to control, restrict or stop the gambling;
  4. strong mental prepossession with gambling (e.g. a strong occupation with a re-experiencing of previous gambling experiences, with the prevention or planning of the next gambling enterprise, contemplation of ways of acquiring money that could be used for gambling);
  5. frequent gambling when in stressful situations (e.g. when feeling helpless,
  6. feelings of guilt, fear, a depressive mood);
  7. returning to gambling the next day in order to make up for losses (”chasing” the loss);
  8. lying to others in order to cover up the extent of the involvement in gambling;
  9. risk of a loss or a loss of an important relationship, a job, prospects of vocational training or promotion as a consequence of gambling;
  10. reliance on financial support by others in order to overcome the financial distress that was caused by gambling.

Problematic gambling is deemed to be a weaker form. A uniform definition does not exist for this form of gambling.

1 see www.lsgbayern.de/information/gluecksspielsucht-daten-fakten/definition-pathologischen-gluecksspielens


Who is affected?

According to the Gambling Survey 2021, 29.7 percent of the population in Germany took part in at least one game of gambling for money in 2021. At 34.7%, the proportion of men was higher than that of women (24.5%).

The study comes to the conclusion that in a total of 2.3 percent of the German population aged 18-70 years, a gambling disorder is recognizable on the basis of the fulfilled criteria of the DSM-5. That's about 1.3 million people[1]. According to the study, a further 5.7 percent (extrapolated to about 3.2 million people) show risky gambling behavior.

The last study of the BZgA of 2019 (gambling behavior and gambling addiction in Germany 2019) was extrapolated of about 229,000 problematic and about 200,000 pathologically gambling enders.

Due to the strong change in the survey methodology (see "About the Gambling Survey"), the results of the current study are only comparable to a very limited extent with those of the previous studies.

However, the results regarding the proportion of gambling participation in individual forms of gambling are comparable. These have remained largely stable compared to the last surveys.

According to the Survey 2021, a total of 6.8% of the population took part in the risky forms of gambling slot machines, casino games and sports betting. The proportion of those who participate in online gambling is 4.6%.

These forms of gambling are classified as risky in the Gambling Survey 2021, as they are characterized by a rapid sequence of games and a short period of time between stake and game result, which significantly increases the risk and addictive potential.

About the Gambling Survey

Since 2007, the gambling behaviour of the population in Germany has been scientifically surveyed. The Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) has so far conducted a representative survey every two years.

For the years 2021, 2023 and 2025, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Addiction and Drug Research (ISD) and the University of Bremen (Gambling Research Unit) have taken over this task. The study examines gambling behaviour in Germany as well as gambling-related disorders and problems in the social environment and is the first survey since the State Treaty on Gambling came into force in 2021.

The data is collected by INFO GmbH Markt- und Meinungsforschung (Berlin). The survey was commissioned and financed by the German Lotto and Totoblock, but the scientists had 100% sovereignty over the interpretation of the results.

A total of 12,303 people were interviewed for the study between August 3 and October 16, 2021. However, the 2021 study differs methodologically from the study design of the previous studies. In particular, in addition to telephone surveys, online surveys were also carried out for the first time. Therefore, the results of the current study are only comparable to a very limited extent with those of the previous studies.

The Gambling Survey 2021 is available for download under Gambling Survey 2021 (isd-hamburg.de).

[1] Own calculation: The extrapolation is based on the population share 2020 of 18- to 70-year-olds, cf. GENESIS-Online: Population: Germany, reference date, age years (retrieved: 24.03.2022)

Studies and specialist articles

„Glücksspielverhalten und Glücksspielsucht in Deutschland 2019“ https://www.bzga.de/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/studien/BZgA-Forschungsbericht_Gluecksspielsurvey_2019.pdf

Das Gefährdungspotenzial von Online-Glücksspielen: Eine systematische Literaturanalyse. Bremen: Universität Bremen; Hayer, Tobias, Girndt, Lydia & Kalke, Jens (2019).

Expertise zur Wirksamkeit von Maßnahmen des Spieler- und Jugendschutzes: Ein systematischer Review (Schriftenreihe zur Glücksspielforschung, Band 21) von Tobias Hayer und Jens Kalke (2. September 2019)


Related links

Commissioner of the German Federal Government for Addiction and Drug Aspects

German Federal Centre for Health Education

Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen e.V.

German Addiction Assistance Statistics (IFT Institut für Therapieforschung)

State offices for addiction

State coordination offices for gambling addiction

Assistance for affected persons

If someone you know or you yourself be affected by gambling-related problems, you can contact the German Federal Centre for Health Education: BZgA (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung) for extensive advice and support.

You will also find suitable regional points of contact in the addiction support directory that is kept by the Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen. Addiction Support Directory - DHS



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