It Is Time to Protect Our Children Against Gambling

28 June 2016

A few days ago I received the results of a study I commissioned a group of professionals to conduct on the activity of the casinos and gambling halls, as well as on their impact on children. I requested this analysis after one case reported by Edelweiss on the drama a family was going through after their 15 year old child had developed passion for gambling, started to borrow money, and do other stupid things to be able to sustain this vice. We helped this family, but we found that this was not an isolated case, but a growing phenomenon.

Gambling halls have grown like mushrooms lately; we all see how many such places were opened at the ground floor of various buildings and all sorts of other places unfit for such activities and dangerous for teens. Moreover, the applicable law is not respected as a result of the actions and inactions of the owners of such places and the authorities, which do not intervene to check if such gambling halls admit children, and if the relevant age limit is complied with. Until the reform of the control system is ensured, we must also work to prevent such phenomena, which are very dangerous for children.

I have never been fond of gambling, this vice has never affected me, but I understand the negative effects and especially I understand how dangerous they are for a child in the development phase. So we decided that in addition to the social activity Edelweiss is already engaged in, we should suggest to the colleagues in the ruling coalition to jointly find the formula to drastically regulate the operation of casinos and gambling halls, to come up with legal amendments that would not allow the placement of these facilities in areas accessible to children and to create a clearer legal framework in the field, similar to the one applicable in other European countries.

During the tonight’s Ruling Coalition Council meeting I presented the situation on this issue and we have agreed to come up with an action plan in the coming days to eradicate this harmful phenomenon. We will come up with a political solution and the necessary legal amendments, and the colleagues from the government will come up with an action plan in their area of ​​competence, the institutional one.

I made this initiative public because I know that whenever someone comes with an attempt to have the casinos and gambling halls regulated, some interest groups start to immediately exercise pressure aimed at ensuring some exemptions applicable to them are kept, including by committing illegalities. I want these groups to know that this time I will be involved personally and together with colleagues in the ruling coalition we will make order, so they should not waste their energy and money to bypass regulations in this area.

The debates are welcome; those working in this field are encouraged to come up with constructive proposals. The regulation must be transparent, but with the ultimate goal to protect children against this vice at an age when they still cannot decide on limitation of negative effects on their own. Safety of children must be a priority for all of us and I hope that the businesses operating in this industry will agree with it.

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