Over a quarter of a million addicts in Israel
The report notes that in Israel, gambling also takes place in legal settings through Mifal Hapayis. According to the Ministry of Welfare, some anti-addiction patients report that legal gambling is a significant part of their gambling activity. The proportion of participants in all types of lotteries and legal gambling in the last year from the age of 18 and up was 39%, about 2.4 million residents.
The authors of the study contacted the relevant government ministries in order to find out the extent of the gambling addiction phenomenon in Israel and it turns out that there are no exact data on the number of gambling addicts in Israel. The State Comptroller’s report from 2019 estimated their number at more than 110,000 people, an estimate based on a periodic report conducted for the Lottery.
A 2021 survey also conducted for Mifal Hapayis and based on subjective answers to personal questions, found that the rate of gamblers at high and medium risk of addiction was 6.4% of the total sample and 9.11% of the participants in lotteries and gambling. In the general population, according to these rates, there are more than a quarter of a million people over the age of 18, regardless of the extent of the risk among minors.
The extent of the gambling addiction phenomenon in Israel was also assessed in a survey conducted by the Brandman Institute in 2021, based on subjective answers answered by respondents to nine questions. The survey found that the rate of gamblers with a medium and high risk of addiction to lotteries and gambling was 6.4% of the total sample and 9.11% of the participants in lotteries, sports betting and gambling. Data that mean for the entire adult population is a little over a quarter of a million people.
It is important to note that since these are surveys commissioned for the body responsible for legal gambling in Israel, they should be treated in a limited way. One of the recommendations was to conduct an independent study of the Lottery, but the recommendation was not implemented.
The Internet significantly affects the extent of addiction
In the last four decades there has been an unprecedented increase in the volume of gambling around the world and as a result the phenomenon of gambling addiction has also expanded. According to a document from the World Health Organization, as of 2016 the prevalence of a serious active gambling problem was between 1.0% and 6% of the population. The proportion of people with milder problems without clinical manifestations alongside those who are at risk of developing a problem is 2 or 3 times greater. Internet gambling conversations among minors have tripled in recent years.
Scope of treatment: Not adapted for casualties
The report cites the American Psychiatric Association’s psychiatric diagnosis file, according to which about half of the gamblers who come for treatment are characterized by suicidal thoughts and some also by actual suicidal attempts. In Israel, only a minority of gambling victims come for treatment. The office had about 3.0% -7.0% of all gambling victims.
The data obtained from the ministry shows that it was almost 3%, and the rate of senior citizens was 9% in 2018 and 2019 and 12% in 2020. The largest number of patients is in the Southern District.
The treatment of gambling victims, as well as other victims of addiction, takes place in both public and out-of-home settings. Most are for all addictions, that is, most are not intended for the treatment of gambling addiction. According to the Ministry of Welfare, combining people with gambling addiction and people with other addictions is challenging due to the differences between the populations, and due to the reluctance of most gambling victims to integrate into these frameworks, to the point of leaving treatment. Caregivers who spoke with the study authors also believed that some of the activities in these frameworks, which are intended for all addictions, are not necessarily suitable for gambling victims, who in most cases are in high school or academic education.
There are 672 alternatives in out-of-home settings, and according to the director of the Addiction Treatment Service at the Ministry of Welfare, an average of 1,500 people with various addictions come to them each year. In 2020, 961 people were treated in the 12 treatment communities funded by the Ministry of Welfare.
A large part of the committee’s recommendations were not implemented
According to the report, in 2016 the government decided to establish an inter-ministerial committee for the treatment, improvement and construction of the treatment system for gambling addicts. The committee formulated recommendations published in early 2019, which included a campaign to raise awareness of gambling addiction and treatment options Preliminary response to inquiries through a dedicated telephone line and website, the recommendation has not been implemented at the government level, although a telephone helpline currently operates through associations; establishment of regional treatment centers for dedicated treatment The addition of the five dedicated centers in the operation of associations, which is currently limited to three years.
MK Ram Shefa, Chairman of the Special Committee on Drugs and Addictions: “The report reflects a clear and gloomy picture regarding the existing solutions for gambling addicts. I welcome the publication of the report and thank the staff of the Knesset Research Department for responding to the request of the Committee on Drugs and Addictions and helping to shed light on this issue. The committee headed by me will continue to monitor the issue and ensure that the state takes responsibility. For all those addicts who do not find a cure in existing frameworks for treating addiction due to their unique addiction.”