“Crime Scene: The Curse of Money”: That’s how big the problem with betting addiction is

The new Saarbrücken "crime scene" (January 28th, 8:15 p.

“Crime Scene: The Curse of Money”: That’s how big the problem with betting addiction is

The new Saarbrücken "crime scene" (January 28th, 8:15 p.m., the first) takes up the topic of gambling and betting addiction in a bizarre constellation of characters: A close-knit gang of four of petty criminal casino regulars pass their time away from the poker and Roulette tables with absurd bets that they make among themselves. Right at the beginning of the “Tatort” episode, this notorious passion has fatal consequences.

While driving a stolen car, the bet is "Who will dare to race down the country road with their eyes closed the longest?" This leads to an old lady in the oncoming lane having a heart attack in shock at the vehicle coming towards her and ending up in the guardrail. In order to hunt down the dangerous betting fanatics, Inspector Leo Hölzer (Vladimir Burlakov, 36) smuggles himself into the group and puts his life at risk.

Even if this shrill crime plot seems unrealistic, the phenomenon of betting addiction is a widespread problem in reality. Of course, like in "Tatort", the bet is not on who can keep their head under water for the longest or who can get the other person's girlfriend into bed can get. Real betting and gaming addicts place their money on the results of sporting events, certain numbers, colors and symbol combinations on lottery tickets, roulette fields, playing cards or the displays of slot machines.

In Germany, the problematic approach to gambling is so widespread that the federal government is forced to curb the problem with massive legal regulation and large-scale educational campaigns.

The Federal Center for Health Education, under the patronage of the Federal Government Commissioner for Addiction and Drug Issues, draws attention to the dangers of gambling at an annual “Gambling Addiction Action Day”. Gambling addiction often ends in personal bankruptcy, broken family relationships and social isolation.

The “Glücksspielatlas 2023” commissioned by the state shows that around a third of the German population regularly takes part in some form of gambling.

The research report also shows that a total of around 1.3 million Germans suffer from a pathological “gambling disorder”, and another 3.3 million show risky gambling behavior with the first signs of addiction.

According to the study, a significant proportion of these figures are due to people who invest their money in sports betting at a loss. There was great legal uncertainty in this industry for many years after the European Court of Justice ruled in 2010 that the previous state gambling monopoly in Germany was incompatible with EU law.

As a result, many betting providers operated illegally and without government regulation, which massively ran counter to the goals of addiction prevention and youth protection. Only since July 1, 2021 has there been a valid “State Treaty on Gambling” that officially legalizes sports betting and online gambling and provides providers with a clear legal basis.

Since then, sports betting providers have had to apply for a German gaming license in order to operate on firm legal ground. Part of these German sports betting licenses is a series of measures whose aim is to "prevent the development of gambling addiction and betting addiction and to create the conditions for effectively combating addiction," as it says in the preamble to the contract. These include, among other things, deposit limits, restrictions on the offer of live betting and mandatory measures for player protection.

The latter includes, among other things, the obligation to offer sports betting customers a “panic button” on the websites with which they can block themselves for 24 hours if they notice that they are losing control over their betting behavior.