Spain sees fewer problem gamblers, more cocaine users


Fewer Spaniards are reporting gambling problems although more of them are drinking alcohol and snorting cocaine. 

On Monday, Spain’s Ministry of Health published the XIII Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs in Spain (EDADES) 2019/2020, as well as the first study of addictions prevalent among residents aged 64 years or older. The survey queried nearly 18,000 respondents aged 15-64 between February and March, plus another 1,443 seniors for the 64+ portion. 

The survey found that some 6.7% of respondents had engaged in real-money online gambling in the previous 12 months, up from 3.5% in the 2017-18 survey and from 2.7% in 2015-16. Males (9.1%) were more than twice as likely to have gambled online than females (4.2%), while the 25-34 age demo had the greatest participation at 9.3%. 

There was much greater participation for land-based gambling (63.6%), which was up marginally from 2017-18 (59.5%) but significantly higher than 2015-16 (37.4%). The gender divide was split far more evenly – 65.9% male, 61.2% female) – while each successive age demo featured greater participation, peaking at 77.1% in the 55-64 group. 

Online gamblers were far more likely to be sports bettors, while offline gamblers overwhelmingly preferred draw-type lotteries (94.4%), with instant-win lotteries well back in second at 25%. 

The survey estimates there are some 670k Spaniards who either have problem gambling tendencies or are at risk of developing same. While that sounds enormous, keep in mind the ‘at risk’ designation is entirely theoretical, and the prevalence rate actually dipped 0.4 points to 2.2% from the 2017-18 survey.  

Males (2.9%) were twice as likely to be included in the problematic category than females (1.4%). The survey claimed that online gamblers were dramatically more likely to be deemed problematic or at-risk (15.8%) than land-based gamblers (3.5%), although that’s to be expected if most land-based gamblers are limited to weekly lottery draws. 

As for non-gambling addictions, more Spaniards are quaffing alcohol and sniffing cocaine, while fewer are smoking either tobacco or cannabis. (Cocaine was an outlier as the only drug for which the perceived risk actually decreased in the current survey.) The percentage of respondents reporting compulsive internet use rose 0.8 points to 3.7%, equating to some 1.1m people. 

As for those senior citizens, a mere 2.4% reported gambling online in the past 12 months versus 68.3% who gambled in person. The rate of being at risk for problem gambling was 1.3%, well below the overall figure. 

Seniors didn’t do much drugs other than reefer, and while they drink more per day than younger Spaniards, their consumption is considered ‘less intensive’ than those rowdy youths puking in alleyways.