Rising Gambling Addiction in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Deep Dive into Causes and Impacts



In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rise of gambling addiction poses a significant social issue, as highlighted in a recent report. The story follows “El”, a pseudonym for a man who has struggled with gambling addiction for years, detailing the personal and familial devastation it can cause. Despite the massive revenues generated by the gambling industry, estimated at nearly €875 million in 2022 in the Bosniak-Croat entity alone, the societal costs are profound. Younger generations are increasingly affected, with inadequate enforcement of age restrictions and a lack of affordable treatment options exacerbating the problem. The state lottery company, portrayed as a socially responsible operator, suggests that the solution lies in encouraging private competitors to adopt similar social standards, while a psychologist volunteering to help those affected by gambling addiction describes the situation as a catastrophe, lamenting the scarcity of resources and governmental action to address the issue.

  • El’s gambling addiction began around 15-20 years ago, starting with bingo and escalating to betting on dog races, leading to significant personal and familial harm.
  • Betting shops and casinos are ubiquitous in Bosnia and Herzegovina, contributing to the prevalence of gambling addiction.
  • The gambling industry in the Bosniak-Croat entity generated almost €875 million in 2022, with each adult losing approximately one month’s salary annually to gambling.
  • There is a notable increase in younger individuals engaging in gambling, despite regulations prohibiting those under 18 from betting.
  • The typical profile of a gambler in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a married father aged between 30 and 45, often driven to gambling by financial pressures.
  • Psychologist Marich estimates that there are 50,000 people with a gambling addiction in the country, with very few able to afford treatment.
  • Authorities have shown little intention to tackle the gambling addiction problem, though there are plans to restrict gambling advertisements.
  • A self-help group exists for those struggling with gambling addiction, offering support to both individuals and their families.
  • El has seen significant personal improvement after six months of attending the self-help group, regaining the ability to envision a future for himself.

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