Since ancient times, gambling has been an attractive activity to people from different cultures. Psychologically, gambling is associated with the disease of addiction, where the gamblers develop an aversion to betting. Studies show that gambling causes variation in brain chemistry that can easily shift from a form of recreation to harmful addiction.
Through history, many influencers have been connected to gambling. For instance, the Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, who was a gambler himself, describes the psychology of gambling in his book The Gambler. Among other things, he concludes that gamblers are usually drawn to the games by the idea of "getting rich quick".
By definition, "gambling is the wagering of money or something of value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods." Gambling becomes especially dangerous when gamblers invest more and more money to win back the money they have lost. The betting causes a feeling of excitement when winning, and anxiety when losing. Gambling is a pattern that forces gamblers to relieve the feeling of helplessness after a loss, by being optimistic and bet over and over again.
In 2015, at the United Nations Conference on Crime, held in Doha, it was concluded that the global sports betting market is worth $3 trillion. It was estimated that the majority of the figure is generated by illegal gambling. According to the British betting expert, Patrick Jay, 65 percent of the total number go to football betting, and 12 percent to tennis and cricket. He told the conference session that 90 percent of the whole amount of the global sports betting are illegal and the figure is much higher than the estimated $3 trillion - and growing each year.
The biggest market of sports gambling is the Asian, where "The key driver of demand in the global gaming market is the time zone, because the market is Asia and therefore if Gillingham versus Orient (two English third-tier sides) is 7pm on a Saturday night in Asia on TV, that's going to drive greater turnover than Barcelona versus Real Madrid, which is at four o'clock in the morning, and that's a fact," he added. Jay, also a former director of trading at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said that "China is becoming the epicenter of the problem".
The conference was attended by Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatari Prime Minister, as well as by Yury Fedotov, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). At the meeting hosted by UNODC and the Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS), these two organizations announced their partnership to "strengthen investigations and prosecutions into match-fixing".
Today, many governments have been making an effort to regulate the new form of gambling. Online gambling gained popularity in the 1990s. In just one year, the number of online gambling websites increased from 15 in 1996 to 200 in 1997. According to the report by Frost & Sullivan, in 1998 online gambling revenues had surpassed $830 million. It was the first year when online poker rooms were introduced. Since then, the online gambling industry has developed a variety of forms. For instance, online poker tables - offering poker where players can play against each other and compete in tournaments, online casinos - where people can play casino games, as well as sports betting, online bingo, mobile gambling, and more.
The Internet changed the gambling industry and betting habits in the early 20th century. According to the UK Gambling Commission, in 2007, the entire gambling industry was worth up to £84 billion, with online gambling becoming one of the most popular Internet businesses. In 2001, the number of people that participated in online gambling was eight million, and in 2008, the online gambling revenue was $21 billion. It is expected for the online gambling market to reach a volume of $45.86 billion in 2016, and $56.05 billion growth by 2018.
The legal status of the gambling industry has not influenced its growth. Many countries such as Russia, have prohibited online gambling or passed acts - Australia, to regulate Internet gambling and protect their citizens of its harmful effects. Studies have shown that the rise of the gambling industry has become a problem, with the majority of people that have shown pathological gambling behavior. For instance, UK Gambling Commission's study showed that in 2010, 0.9 percent of the adult population had gambling issues, especially those who participated in online slot machine-style games (17%), Dog races (19%), and Poker at a pub (20%).
Most of the countries worldwide forbid gambling for minors. In the UK, any person under the age of 18 is not allowed to gamble. In most American states, individuals below 21 are not allowed to enter a casino, and below 18 to buy a lottery ticket. However, even with these regulations, with the rise of the online gambling industry, it is hard for legal organs to keep track of the people that participate in the games.
With the goal of 150 country to be visited before 2025, Stefano Virgilli is an avid traveller and expert connoisseur of the cultures of the world.