4 addictologists speak out against the legalization of online casino gambling in an opinion piece
In an article published in the daily newspaper Le Figaro, four addictologists and a socio-epidemiologist warn the government against the risks associated with legalizing online casino gambling in France, an issue currently being debated in the French National Assembly. Indeed, the five authors stress that Internet gambling is damaging and difficult to regulate, and that it is essential to consider the various implications for players’ mental health.
The potential dangers of online casino gambling in terms of public health
The article recently published in Le Figaro highlights the potential dangers to public health of the expansion of online gambling in France – particularly digital slot machines – and openly criticizes MP Philippe Latombe’s bill, which aims to further regulate online gambling.
The authors of the article, a group made up of four addictologists and a socio-epidemiologist, are particularly concerned about active lobbying in favor of expanding the legal online gambling offer, and believe that the opening of legal online casinos represents a great danger to the public. The latter point the finger at Internet slot machines, which are said to present a set of major risk factors for gambling addiction (high rate of return to the player despite low winnings, speed of results, high frequency of betting, etc.).
According to the authors, these different characteristics make online casino games more addictive than other forms of gambling. The five co-authors also point out that the iGaming industry has invested heavily in the technological design of such games to extend the time players spend on different devices, a way of increasing engagement rates.
Creating cognitive distortions in players, a major fear
The signatories of the tribune, respectively a socio-epidemiologist, three addictology psychiatrists and the head of a hospital addictology department, fear that online casino games, once legalized, will create cognitive distortions in gamblers, leading them to play more and more without being rational.
Indeed, apparent victories and small winnings give a false impression of success, but in the end, ” the machine always wins “The authors compare online gambling to a veritable drug, and point out that compulsive gamblers are unable to stop playing once they’ve settled down in front of their screens. Needless to say, this can have serious consequences for their mental health, sometimes even leading to suicidal thoughts.
A survey carried out in France showed that online casino games particularly attract the most vulnerable players, with 45% of them falling into the addicted category and generating the bulk of the industry’s sales. The authors estimate that 80% of online casino sales come from people with problem gambling habits.