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May 28

Responsible Gaming Academy in Vienna

11_rgaThe Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group has been organizing its annual “Responsible Gaming Academy” (RGA) since 2004. On May 22 the eleventh academy took place in Vienna.

About 240 people attended. Among the presenters were Jeffrey Derevensky from Canada, Tobias Hayer from Germany and Neven Ricijaš from Croatia. I presented about gambling advertising, in part based on my recent review of research into that topic.

The presentation by Neven Ricijaš made a deep impression on me. It was about youth gambling in Croatia. Ricijaš’ presentation showed how, in some social and cultural context, gambling can cause significant harm. In population studies, problem gamblers may appear as a small minority of the population (around 0,5-2 percent of adults). But among some subgroups the problems are certainly larger, and afflicts also significant others and people in the neighborhood. Neven Ricijaš’ made us aware of this in his presentation.

Jeffrey Derevensky presented on “Social media gambling amongst youth: Parental operator or regulatory responsibility?” This is a current issue that is very relevant to gambling studies. Tobias Hayer presented on “Online and offline sports betting: Gambling options and risk potential from the addiction psychology perspective”.

Tobias Hayer’s presentation occasioned a debate about the relative importance of skill and chance in sports betting. My opinion is that professional and semi-professional gamblers, if they have access to insider information and exceptionally extensive data on past performance, may make money on sports and horse betting. However, the ordinary player – including the sports enthusiast who know a lot about sport – has in practice very little chance of getting a positive return on pari-mutual betting. Sometimes, in their marketing, gambling companies exaggerate the importance of skill in such betting. In fixed odds betting, the well-informed player may occasionally beat the betting company by making a better prediction of the outcome of a sport event, but in the long run very few players will come out ahead.

All of the above applies to skill in the sense of making a profit from sports betting. Skill in the sense of winning often is another thing. It is very simple: always bet on the team or horse with the lowest odds and you will certainly win more often than the majority of players. It is so simple that it cannot be considered a skill.

> Read more about the eleventh Responsible Gambling Academy (mostly in German)

[Photo shows Mr. Herbert Beck opening the eleventh RGA]

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