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Cause for Concern: Recent Survey Reveals the Level of Gambling Addiction in Japan

Aug 26, 2014
Pachiko Addiction

Pachiko Addiction

The results of a recent study on gambling addiction are causing people to worry about the imminent legalization of casinos in Japan. According to the survey, almost 5% of Japanese adults are already problem gamblers, despite casino games being forbidden in the country.

The latest gambling news have revealed that, compared to the majority of other nations, this rate is five times bigger.Instead of popular games such as roulette, slot machines, or even blackjack, Japan’s favorite is pachinko. There are a number of pachinko parlors across the country, and they are all extremely popular.

In addition, the study showed a rising trend in Internet and alcohol addiction among Japanese adults. The survey was headed by Susumu Higuchi, a leading expert on addiction. Higuchi is worried that legalizing casinos would make things worse. “If something new becomes available, addiction will only rise,” he told reporters.

Yahoo News: Gambling, IT, booze addictions rife in Japan: studyThe study brought to light one of the most worrying gambling facts, that 5% of adults living in Japan have lost control over their gambling habits. What separates the Japanese from other developed, industrialized nations is the low public awareness regarding the dangers of gambling addiction.

A campaigner who has a significant amount of experience in the field said that while others prefer to talk openly about this issue and try to prevent it or to at least reduce its negative impact, things are different in Japan, where no one wants to confront the reality of problem gambling.

According to researchers, roughly 5.36 million people in Japan are most probably pathological gamblers. That number represents 4.8% of the country’s adult population, all of them players who cannot resist the impulse to spend their money on wagers.

While casinos are still illegal at the moment, there are a number of pachinko parlors and other gambling establishments to choose from.

Wall Street Journal: Five Million Japanese Have Gambling Problem, Says Ministry Study

According to a group of researchers working under the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, around 5.36 million people living in Japan could be suffering from a pathological gambling problem. The number represents 4.8% of the country’s adult population.

The study was funded by the ministry and the team of researchers was led by Susumu Higuchi of the Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center. In 2013, 4,153 randomly chosen adults living in Japan participated in the survey that found 8.7% of men and 1.8% of women show signs that they could be addicted to gambling.

Everyone participating in the survey was told to describe their gambling habits. They were asked to talk about activities such as betting on horse racing, online casino games, slot machines, boat racing, as well as pachinko. The latter is a very popular pinball-like game which can be played in parlors across the country.

The report also revealed that, compared to other developed countries, Japan had a higher percentage of pathological gamblers.

The Asahi Shimbun: Millions of Japanese hooked on gambling, survey shows

Recent news have revealed that an estimated 5.36 million Japanese adults – representing 4.5% of the nation’s adult population – are suspected of being addicted to gambling. About 4.38 million adult males and 980,000 female adults are habitual gamblers. The results are similar to those found in 2008, at the time of the last study.

The researchers asked subjects to answer “yes” or “no” to a number of questions or affirmations such as “I have gambled more than what I initially intended to do”. Those who answered “yes” to most of them are suspected of being pathological gamblers, as their replies indicate they cannot resist the temptation of playing for money.

Compared to other countries where similar studies have been carried out, the ratio for both men and women was particularly high in Japan. For example, in Switzerland only 0.5% of the total adult population was suspected of having a gambling problem; in the Us state of Louisiana, the percentage was a bit higher, at 1.58%, while in Hong Kong it reached 1.8%. Still, none of these come close to Japan’s 4.8%.

Susumu Higuchi, one of the researchers involved in the study told reporters: “On a global basis, Japan has one of the highest ratios of pathological gamblers as gambling devices such as pachinko and slot machine games are ubiquitous.”

Now the media believes that the study could impact the administration’s plan for economic growth, which includes proposals to allow casino resorts in certain parts of Japan.

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UK Labour Party Looking to Impose Betting Levy for Sportsbooks

Aug 08, 2014

UK Labour Party Looking to Impose Betting Levy for Sportsbooks
The gambling business is a massive industry that brings in enormous earnings year after year. Therefore, the Labour Party of UK has decided to take certain measures to see more money flowing back to the basic elements of sports by proposing a levy for sportsbetting. Some of the money will also be directed to help battle gambling problems that some players encounter.

The Labour Party believes that this step will help them create a solid foundation for future athletes, as revenues generated by the levy will go to their development.

The Guardian: Labour’s betting levy to be used for grassroots and problem gambling

The Labour Party is in the process of implementing a hefty levy on all bookmakers, as they hope to raise considerable revenue to redistribute throughout different areas in sports. A percentage of the levy revenue will go to problems dealing with gambling addictions and related issues, according to latest gambling news.

Harriet Harman and Clive Efford, shadow culture secretary and shadow sports minister respectively, have both issued a document “sports for all” as part of the levy proposal. Currently the levy is only applicable to horseracing, while around GBP 82 million given back to the racing industry in 2014.

Efford commented, “We believe it is right that businesses that make money from sport should contribute to sport. We are consulting on whether we should introduce a levy on betting, including online betting, to fund gambling awareness and support for problem gambling but also to improve community sports facilities and clubs.”

He also highlighted the importance of having the money returned to the grassroots of different sports, as that would help create the next wave of highly skilled athletes. “It’s my preference that the income from the levy went into a general pool to help grassroots sport and from which the respective sports would draw their future elite sportsmen and women.”

Reuters: UK opposition weighs betting levy to fund grassroots sport

Internet betting and Premier League TV revenue is the main target of the new levy, as the Labour Party is taking steps to see more people become involved in sports. The London Olympics 2012 served a great purpose in promotion people to become more active and partake in sporting recreations.

At the moment the levy is only attributed to horseracing activities, however the Labour Party sees additional potential in the Premier League and sportbetting providers.

Harriet Harman, shadow culture secretary, is certain that charging a new tax levy to the Premier League and betting firms will benefit the overall society. “Our consultation looks at a number of ideas which aim to boost investment in community and grassroots sports by getting tough with the Premier League and betting companies.”

Currently, the TV deals that the Premier League teams have negotiated are worth a staggering GBP 5 billion spread over a three year period. Labour wants more money to be directed to the lower levels of English football, to assist everyone involved.

The proposed levy received criticism from one online sportsbooks, namely Ladbrokes. The director of external relations of the betting giant, Donald McCabe, expressed his viewpoints on the levy matter that is surely going to impact their business.

“As far as we are aware no bookmaker or betting operator ever closed a community sports field or club. So we are not sure why an extra tax is being proposed on an industry already facing two tax increases and which pays out over 65 percent of all its earnings in taxes and levies.”

The Premier League issued a statement whereby they assert that the League already gives out GBP 56 million per season to good causes and grassroots football. They also spread out over GBP 60 million per season to lower tier clubs to help finance their operations.

“We understand that all those interested in the long-term health of English football want to see better grassroots facilities and higher levels of participation, particularly amongst young people. This is why we are committed to continue the unprecedented levels of funding we provide as well as being happy to engage on these matters.”

The Spectator: Labour’s sports betting levy will hit poor punters

A spokesperson from William Hill stated that the firm “welcomed all initiatives” that would benefit sports across all levels, but raised questions regarding the funding scheme. “We don’t believe that problem should be passed on to us,” said the spokesman.

The reasoning behind William Hill’s objections is that the gambling industry already shells out over GBP 1 billion to the UK Treasury. Another GBP 400 million is likely to be raised the following year, after recent new initiatives raised at the last Budget.

When it comes to imposing the new levy to the Premier League, clubs will have to charge more for their services, namely season tickets and similar products. For instance, football team Tottenham Hotspur charges its fans GBP 1,320 for the most expensive season tickets.

Taking into account that Premier League can be considered a “middle class” pursuit, a small hike in prices of season tickets could probably be tolerated by fans. However, the real problem with the proposed levy begs the question who will suffer from it? The middle class will most likely be able to afford the price increase, while another group won’t.

Many punters actively bet on a regular basis, however it is mainly considered to be a norm with the “working class.” The vast majority of people who bet regularly do not have over GBP 1,000 to splash out on a season ticket. So in reality they are the ones that would have to pay for the increase in prices of the new proposed levy.

BBC: Sport betting levy amongst ‘innovative’ Labour sport plans

Shadow culture secretary, Harriet Harman, claimed that the objective to use the 2012 Olympic Games as a tool to achieve higher sports activity within society did not have the effect they initially hoped for. She issued a statement saying that “strong government leadership” was necessary to achieve that goal.

Harman highlighted the negative results by saying, “We were all proud to host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in London two years ago, but instead of seeing increased participation things have got worse, especially among young people, as a result of the government axing school sports partnerships.”

Harman also added that she will look at options of restoring a rule to schools which dictated that students must have at least two hours of sport per week. Gambling news reports this requirement was previously removed by the coalition that made educational reforms.

All of these efforts are part of Labour’s plan titled More Sport for All. Part of the new plan includes setting new target for female participation in sports and also increasing the overall number of women on boards of sporting organizations.

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Paddy Power Data Breach Comes to Light after Four Years

Aug 07, 2014

Paddy Power Data Breach Comes to Light after Four Years

The highlight of this week’s online gambling news is the data breach that happened in 2010 and affected 649,000 Paddy Power customers. Their personal details were stolen by a Canadian who hacked into the betting company’s database. Now, four years later, Paddy Power is sending out emails to users who have been affected.

The hacker accessed personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and even all the security questions used to verify accounts, along with the answers chosen by users. Luckily, he did not manage to get his hands on any financial information.

“We sincerely regret that this breach occurred and we apologize to people who have been inconvenienced as a result,” online division chief Peter O’Donovan said.

“We take our responsibilities regarding customer data extremely seriously and have conducted an extensive investigation into the breach and the recovered data. That investigation shows that there is no evidence that any customer accounts have been adversely impacted by this breach.”

Irish Mirror: Paddy Power say 650,000 customers affected by 2010 cyber attack

Paddy Power started to contact customers, after it was discovered that their personal information was leaked in a 2010 cyber attack. Almost 650,000 punters were affected by the data theft, and the Irish betting company said it was “pro-actively” getting in touch with those whose names, addresses, and phone numbers may have fallen into the wrong hands.

When checking their emails or the latest gambling results, some customers also came across a letter signed by Paddy Power’s managing director of online business, Peter O’Donovan, delivering the bad news that their personal details were stolen. The attack allegedly originated in Ontario, Canada.

The company said no financial information was taken from the 120,855 Irish customers, 461,154 UK users, and 67,052 international punters have been affected. It has been reported that Paddy Power became aware of the fraud in May, when it immediately launched an investigation, but it’s unclear why it took them so long to go public with it.

“We are communicating with all of the people whose details have been compromised to tell them what has happened,” O’Donovan added.

Comox Valley Echo: Irish betting company Paddy Power apologizes for 2010 data breach involving 649,055 customers

The Dublin-based online and mobile betting operator said it had known since 2010 that someone attempted to hack its customers’ online accounts. Paddy Power monitored the system for signs of fraud or theft, but said it had found no evidence of it actually happening

It was only in May that the company received a tipoff about a man in Toronto who had an archive of Paddy Power’s customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, birth dates, usernames, and security questions. All this information would come in handy to someone who tries to impersonate customers, to crack into their personal accounts on other websites.

Two Canadian court orders were secured in July, ordering the man to surrender his database. The police also obtained permits to look into his IT equipment and financial records. The man was questioned by officers, but is yet to be charged with any crime.

Paddy Power has started to send emails to the 649,055 customers affected. That number represented almost 30% of its online gamblers in 2010. Users were advised to change their security questions on all web accounts.

According to Maksym Schipka, an information security specialist working for British cyber-security firm Clearswift, the betting operator’s failure to identify the details of the data theft over the past four years is “a huge failure on Paddy Power’s behalf to maintain control and protection of its users’ critical information.”

Gloal Post: Ireland expresses concern over data breach in bookmaker Paddy Power

Soon after it came to light that a Canadian hacker had stolen personal information from Paddy Power’s data base, the Irish government publicly expressed concern over the data breach.

Dara Murphy, minister of state at the departments of the prime minister and foreign affairs with special responsibility for European affairs and data protection, told reporters: “I am very disappointed that it has taken until now for Paddy Power to inform its customers”

The breach occurred in October 2010, but Paddy Power did not inform the office of the Data Protection Commissioner until May 12, 2014. While gambling laws do not make it mandatory for operators to report such breaches, this is the recommended best practice.

The Irish betting operator waited almost four years to talk about what happened, and only went public after an investigation revealed details about the data theft.

“Paddy Power put in place increased security measures after the breach in 2010 and I have been in touch with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which met with Paddy Power representatives this week,” Murphy added in a statement.

“My office and that of the Data Protection Commissioner will be working closely in relation to this matter. It is best practice to inform the commissioner as soon as these breaches occur, and although these were not breaches of password or financial information, the data security breach code of practice should be followed at all times in order to safeguard personal information and assure customers that their data is secure.”

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