Tanel Kiik, Estonia’s minister of social affairs, has signed a directive to provide €200,000 in funding to the MTÜ Gambling Addiction Counselling Centre. The funds will be used to monitor problem gambling among young people and to support the body’s existing treatment centre.
The funding comes as part of a round of partnership agreements that aim to allow the Ministry of Social Affairs to collaborate with non-governmental organisations and to support their development and operational capacity.
The MTÜ Gambling Addiction Counselling Centre will carry out a study into the impact of gambling behaviour on minors. Funding will also support the work of its counselling centre, which the ministry said currently provides free psychological counselling to 200 people.
It also offers debt counselling. The number of people at risk of gambling-related harm in Estonia is estimated at 7 per cent.
Pille-Riin Indermitte, head of MTÜ Gambling Addiction Counselling Centre, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the growth of gaming behaviour among both young people and adults. On the one hand, gambling behaviour increases initially, primarily as a way to pass time, but as it deepens, other interests disappear and it is difficult to return to school and work responsibilities.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted various countries to look into problem gambling, with several introducing temporary limits on stakes or play.
“On the other hand, the increase in gambling is due to the hope to improve one’s financial situation when employment opportunities have decreased. We are pleased to pilot a support group service and, for the first time, to carry out a study on the spread of gambling and digital addiction problems among minors in Estonia.” – head of MTÜ also say.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted various countries to look into problem gambling, with several introducing temporary limits on stakes or play. Estonia’s neighbour, Latvia, suspended all forms of gambling during its initial Covid-19 lockdown but saw gaming revenues start to recover in Q3.