Gambling is widespread across much of the world, regardless of local laws. The fact that people can now choose to gamble online in a huge variety of ways means it’s now more possible than ever before to circumvent local restrictions, or to bet with sportsbooks and casinos based virtually anywhere in the world.
This has led to the rise of the online gambling industry, and over the course of just a couple of decades, it has grown from nothing into a massive sector, worth multiple billions each and every year. Yet for some governments, the demographics and behaviours of their citizens as far as gambling is concerned remains a mystery.
The best way to find out about how ordinary people gamble is to conduct research, and gambling regulators like the UK’s Gambling Commission have been collecting statistics for a number of years. This is incredibly useful, both in terms of helping inform government policy, but also in providing some benchmark metrics to identify trends and patterns in gambling behaviour and popularity.
Now, following that lead, it appears as though regulators in Cyprus want to take similar steps, in what would be a surprising first for the small island nation. Cyprus is something of a hotbed for gambling activity and businesses, and there has been a long associated between the country and the online gambling sector. For many, the fact that authorities there have never conducted any meaningful research into local gambling habits comes as something of a surprise.
According to media reports, the government has set the wheels in motion of their first official attempt at gathering gambling statistics. Under the watchful eye of the National Betting Authority and in conjunction with market research firm Insights Market Research, some 3,000 Cypriots are expected to give their views on gambling, answering a series of questions about themselves and their approach to gambling.
Aside from simply collecting statistics, the report also hopes to identify the extent to which problem gambling is a factor within the country. Elsewhere, similar research processes by governments have confirmed problem gambling to be a very niche, minority concern, but there are some interesting geographic distinctions. It remains to be seen to what extent this is a factor in the Cyprus gambling market, although no doubt there may be some individuals affected.
The chair of the NBA, Ioanna Fiakou, said the study would shed light on problem gambling within Cyprus, as well as better equipping regulators with the knowledge they need to make effective policy for the sector.
“The survey’s goals focus on recording the extent of participation in gambling activities, identifying the extent of problematic participation among the public, studying gamblers’ social and demographic traits, the frequency with which they engage in gambling, and their budgeted and real spending in gambling. The goal of separation by age group is that the authority will seek to take all necessary measures for each group and recommend the appropriate measures to the competent authorities.”
The study will break down respondents by age, starting with minors aged 13-17, ranging right up to 65 and older. Some 3,000 people are to be interviewed from different locations across the island, with the interview process expected to last until December of this year.
The study will also seek to identify people’s knowledge of the boundaries between legal and illegal gambling, as well as attempting to establish borderline figures for those with gambling problems of varying degrees.
The findings are expected to be published during 2018, although there are no suggestions at present that this will lead to any change in the underlying legislation.