The Malta Independent 16 June 2019, Sunday

53% of Malta’s adult population have been involved in paid gaming activities

Albert Galea Friday, 14 December 2018, 14:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

Around 186,849 people aged 18 or over, or rather 53% of the country's adult population, are estimated to have been involved in paid gaming activities, a survey carried out by the Malta Gaming Authority about the consumption of gambling and gaming services of Maltese residents in 2017.

This is a 4.3% decrease over 2015, whilst 47% reported that they play free games as well.  This is spread between free to play computer games (53%), free internet games (83%) and free non-computer games (84%), with each person naturally being able to pick any or all of the aforementioned three options. 

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The survey also indicates that gambling and gaming services in Malta constitute around 2.6% of household expenditure in total, and that less than 10% of the population engaged in gambling and gaming services spend more than 10% of their income on such services.

It is estimated in total that the Maltese population in 2017 spent around €128 million in gaming and gambling, representing a €3 million increased from the last time this survey was conducted in 2015.  The overall average expenditure per person per product decreased by €1 over the period under review, from around €12.30 per week in 2015 to a smidge under €11.30 per week in 2017.

77.4% of engagements in gaming by Maltese layers involved National Lottery games, whilst the next preference was in remote gaming.  There is a general preference amongst those falling into younger adult demographics for the latter, whilst the popularity of the national lottery peaks in the 45 to 59 years age bracket, a demographic which does not seem to engage in remote gaming at all.

Out of all respondents, 1 to 2% of reported that the money they spent on gaming was having a negative effect on their lives or the lives of those around them.  Explaining the results, economist Gordon Cordina said that this does not necessarily mean that these people are in extreme types of problems, and it could also be that these same people are already members of support services that are helping them to stop their problem.

Kayne Said from the Responsible Gaming Foundation said that the foundation aimed to look into this reported figure, and also continue to add awareness on the causes and consequences that gaming could have, whilst giving importance to support to those who suffer from compulsive and pathological gaming habits.

One such measure will be a €1 million EU-funded project called Take Action against Gaming Habits in Malta, whilst the foundation will be carrying out an educational campaign with fourth year primary school students on responsible gaming, and carrying out its own national survey to go further in depth on the various realities of the gaming and gambling situation in Malta.  Said reminded that the foundation also operates a helpline for all suffering from gambling or gaming problems, which is 1777.

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri meanwhile also praised the survey and the picture it gave of the situation, and saying that it helped the government see what measures it needed to take, and whether those that had already been implemented were working as intended.

He said that the statistic which stood out to him was that the average expense on gaming was €11.30 a week saying that as long as this spending figure is controlled and that the person spending can afford it, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Schembri said that he was looking forward to the Responsible Gaming Foundation's next survey into the realities of this industry, and said that more specific action can be taken from there.

Heathcliff Farrugia, the Executive Head of the Malta Gaming Authority, meanwhile said that the survey had provided a clear picture on how gaming affects Maltese society, and noted that it was good to see that the vast majority of people see gaming as entertainment and can have fun without losing control. 

Still, he said, it was the authority's responsibility to support those who were being affected negatively by gaming and gambling and he added that the survey was useless unless it had an action plan with all stakeholders, including the government, involved.


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