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European gambling: Changing stereotypes – from a way of making money to a popular entertainment

Over the past hundred years, humanity has changed its attitude towards things and activities, which were common in the past but transformed considering the staggering progress rate.
It is happening not only because of new technologies and gadgets but also because of a different culture of everyday life and social relations. For instance, remote work is not an exception or a sign of life challenges but has become a common practice for many economic sectors.

Along with the change in the public attitudes towards social roles and employment regulation technologies, the attitude towards free time and entertainment also changed. The most striking example of such changes is the transformation of the role gambling played in the public mind, from a way of making money to one of the global entertainment industry sectors.

According to public opinion surveys on the Ukrainians’ attitude to gambling, conducted this year and last by the Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC), Ukrainians perceive legal gambling as entertainment, like most citizens of civilized countries.

Also, most Ukrainians have little experience in gambling, and only one in twelve respondents (8.2%) is planning to gain it in the future.

When business associations do their job, it always produces results. The UGC studies were the first studies conducted after the gambling legalization in Ukraine. However, what we are doing in Ukraine for the first time has long become a daily practice in other countries. For instance, our colleagues from the specialized Latvian Gambling Association conduct similar studies on a regular basis.

In Latvia, as well as in Ukraine, the public attitude towards gambling has been changing in recent years. Numerous gambling stereotypes are similar to those in Latvia because they have common roots in the Soviet Union. However, some politicians in Latvia and Ukraine speculate on these stereotypes.

The President of the Latvian Gambling Business Association Arnis Vērzemnieks, commenting on the study results concerning the Latvian information resource Delfi.lv, noted:

“Over the years, the industry has undergone a drastic change, and gamblers’ habits have also changed. However, politicians cultivate misleading assumptions and do not listen to expert opinions. That is why we are launching an awareness campaign to debunk some myths about our industry.”

The current study concerning the attitude of Latvian citizens towards legal gambling has proved that according to 78% of respondents, gambling is a form of entertainment or a hobby. Only 17% of Latvians consider gambling as a source of income.

It is indicative that in a similar 2019 study, the latter figure was almost three times higher, 48%. Thus, in recent years Latvia has seen a radical reassessment by society of the place and role of gambling.

One of the catalysts for such changes was the systematic advocacy work to eradicate Soviet gambling myths, and another was the increased social responsibility of legal gambling operators, especially large international companies that discovered the Latvian market.
Viktoriya Zakrevskaya