Singapore holds the first International Conference on Gambling Addiction

Around five hundred thousand educators, psiquiatrists and games of chance experts are participating in the first International Conference on Gambling Addiction, whose aim is to study the problem in depth.

During the two-day conference organized by the Singaporean National Council for gambling problems, assistants deal with the causes of the gambling addiction and the consecuences that such problem involves for the gambler and his family.

“The practice of the game by youngsters is a hidden addiction, because, unlike alcohol, we cannot smell the breath to know if someone has played, and we cannot identify a player with a simple look either”, said the Psiquiatrist Jeffrey Derevensky to the Singaporean press, considered an authority in the gambling problem study among youngsters.

The subjects to be treated in the conference include: the growing trend to gambling in youngsters, in particular those who use computers connected to the net, the prevention of the problem and the approach that should be given to campaigns adressed to make people aware of gambling problems.

Deverensky pointed that, the more Internet access, the biggest is the number of teenagers that become compulsive gamblers. He said that a research ellaborated last year, based in interviews with young people from the five continents, showed that between 50 to 80 % of the teenagers interviewed had bet at least in one occasion during their participation in a game of chance.

He also points that a 20 % of teenagers that play online develop serious personality problems, and their interest for studies declines.

A study developed by the Social Affairs Minister of Singapore, one of the most prosperous countries in Asia, revealed that half of the cityzens with gambling problems began to develop this habit between 18 to 24 years old.

Singapore, whose authorities created a free phone line to assist gambling addicts last year, will have two big casinos in 2010, the first ones in this island that expects to compete with Macao, the Asian Las Vegas.