Betting: The dangerous game with sports

By Misch PautschLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

More and more sports fans - including young ones - are giving their hobby an extra kick with small and large bets. However, it is not only a dangerous game with your own money, but also with the integrity of the sport and the safety of the athletes.

"Sir, is it really gambling if you know who's going to win?" This question immediately reveals the allure of sports betting – and the potential danger. It was asked by a young gambler in conversation with a psychologist at the Centre for Excessive Behaviour and Behavioural Addiction (ZEV). Psychotherapist Hamadou Zarmakoye estimates that sports betting is a problem for around a quarter of the young people who are treated here for problematic gambling behaviour – including addiction. Most of them are active in sports clubs themselves, where they often bet small amounts of money or the proverbial crate of beer on the outcome of a match for the first time in groups. "Especially if you feel like you know the league and know who the strong teams are."

For many of them, these small games between friends with low stakes are all they do. But the temptation to play "for real" and win big with the supposed "knowledge" seems just a click away. According to Handelsblatt, turnover in the betting industry across Europe has risen from just under €10 billion in 2019 to €13.6 billion in 2022 – and is forecast to swell to €20 billion a year by 2027. Other estimates put the figures even higher: according to the German Centre for Addiction Issues, the game against the odds is expected to have generated 18.3 billion euros in turnover for providers in 2023 after the conditions for cooperation between sports clubs and betting providers were relaxed in Germany.

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