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10.3% of young people between 14-18 years of age do online betting

The psychologist José Antonio Molina, who gave a lecture in the University of Navarra, advised that there should be filters to prevent this activity

FotoManuel Castells/

12 | 02 | 2021

The increase in online betting is “significant and should make us think,” said José Antonio Molina, a health psychologist, professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and director of Psicohealth, (a clinic specializing in the treatment of addictions), during a conference at the University of Navarra.

The psychologist said he sees more young people in his clinic addicted to online gambling. He referred to the ESTUDES survey, which measures gambling in the 14-18 years population, and shows that 10.3% of these young people place online bets, while 22.7% do so in person. These percentages rise with increase in the age of the population. “It is important to note that a percentage of these players are minors, both in online and face-to-face betting, when there should be filters so that this does not happen. We're failing at something," he said.

According to Molina, factors such as the short time between the bet and the result, the feeling of personal appreciation (“I'm good at this”), the adrenaline rush, as well as availability and privacy are factors that increase the addictive potential to the game. “With online betting, some of these factors are less noticeable to the addict,” he explains. “For example, online sports betting on the phone is not the same as playing slot machines. The feeling of losing money when you handle notes or coins or also feeling watched influences behavior, although sometimes this is not enough of a deterrent for addicts," he adds.

Consumption of drugs

The psychologist addressed the risks and characteristics of substance addiction. According to the Ministry of Health's EDADES Survey, which examines behavior in the general population, the difference between the percentage of men and women who consume substances such as alcohol and tobacco has reduced. Currently, for example, 77.5% of women consume alcohol compared to 74.1 % of men. Overall, consumption is high and stable over time, and there will come a time when the percentage of men and women consuming these substances will be equal. On the other hand, he stressed that “women use more so-called legal drugs – alcohol and tobacco – and men use more illegal drugs, such as cannabis or cannabis related products.”

The expert stressed that to diagnose a person with an addiction, a number of criteria must be met. These include the level of tolerance to the substance, withdrawal syndrome, if it has a negative impact on their life etc. “Also the alteration of the person’s values, the loss of control or the use of that substance as a means to achieve an effect – such as anesthetizing an emotion –” he concluded.

The conference “From consumption to dependence, current panorama of addictions” marked the celebration of the Patron Saint of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.