Spillemyndigheden, the Danish Gambling Authority, has launched a nationwide initiative targeting young people under the age of 18 that focuses on the consequences associated with gambling. One of the reasons for this is the need for early intervention, despite the fact that most types of gambling are only allowed for adults over the age of 18.
The vast majority of gambling products are only allowed for adults over the age of 18. However, a study by the Danish Gambling Authority shows that 15% of young people between the ages of 15-17 have gambled online in the past year. In addition, a clear trend in inquiries to the Danish Gambling Authority’s helpline StopSpillet shows that the vast majority of people with gambling problems make their gambling debut before the age of 25.
“Young people under the age of 18 in Denmark find ways to gamble, for example through friends or family or through online gambling sites without a Danish licence. We know that the younger you are when you make your gambling debut, the more likely you are to develop a gaming problem later on. That’s why, for the first time, we’re targeting under-18s directly, and we’re doing it in a new, creative way that turns the whole thing on its head. This is necessary if we are to remind young people of the risks of gambling and, not least, that the house always wins in the long run; gambling is not a way to quick and easy money,” Anders Dorph, director of the Danish Gambling Authority, said.
The focal point of the new effort is a fictional character, “The One-Armed Bandit”, who serves as an analogy for gambling addiction. As part of the effort, follow the character through short videos and posts on YouTube and Instagram and see how he scams and cheats his way into luring young people into gambling. Although the subject matter is serious, the content is characterised by humour and irony, which according to Anders Dorph is a strategic choice to get through to young people.
“The seriousness of gambling addiction must not be downplayed. But that doesn’t mean we should be pointing fingers at the under-18s. We have chosen a new approach in this effort, where we try to open young people’s eyes through humor and irony on their terms, so we arouse their curiosity, get them engaged and relate to gambling without stigmatizing and creating fear,” Anders Dorph said.
In connection with the development of the initiative, Anders Dorph said it has become clear how gambling has become a social activity among young people. This contributes to many young people forgetting the potential consequences that gambling can have.
“Danish young people are reflective and enlightened, and many are aware of how gambling can get out of hand and develop into gambling addiction, leading to loneliness, debt or other personal challenges. But we also know that gambling today is much more of a social activity among young people, who gamble in class, during breaks or at home with friends. In the social space, it can quickly seem harmless to gamble, and that’s exactly why with ‘The One-Armed Bandit’ we want to remind young people of the potential negative consequences,” Anders Dorph said.
“The One-Armed Bandit” is played by David Minerba, who has a large following on social media and is well known in the target audience. Comedian Martin Høgsted has been involved in the production of the content as director. “The One-Armed Bandit” has its own profile on YouTube and Instagram, where it is possible to follow the character, watch the content and interact with it. As part of the larger effort, the Danish Gambling Authority will also activate influencer collaborations to spread the messages.
Recently, the Danish Gambling Authority launched a new website, StyrPåSpillet, which gathers information about gambling and compulsive gambling in one place, where parents can find information and advice on how to engage in a dialogue with their children about gambling.