“Even when you know the dice are loaded, there is always the hope of winning…” Benjamin (all first names have been changed), 27, who found himself in online casinos during the first confinement, admits that he was “addicted”. Although illegal, this sector has grown explosively in recent years: according to estimates by the National Gaming Authority (ANJ), between 3 and 4 million online gambling players have wagered at least once on a casino offer in the past year.
Passionate about cryptocurrencies, he invested there up to three times a week at the peak of bitcoin prices, in the spring of 2021, at a rate of 100 to 200 euros per night. “I knew it was illegal, but playing with cryptos on Stake of Cresus broke that mental barrier,” he confides.
It was also at the beginning of Covid that Quentin, lured by promotional codes offered by influencers and ‘streamers’ on social networks, began visiting online casinos. Previously, the student from Lyon was ‘caught’ by the famous video game Counter-Strike, which offers the purchase of ‘skins’ on a similar market.
“We are constantly told what the possibilities are to win as much as possible, knowing that we can play unlimitedly and at any time,” adds Max, a Belgian in his twenties, who at the age of 13 was also swallowed up by this downward trend. spiral via Counter-Strike: “No site has ever asked my age. »
“We lose everything, but we tell ourselves every time that we will get back together”
For Benjamin, the virtual games of slot machines, blackjack or baccarat continued until the bank account rang hollow. “I could play slot machines for four to five hours by mindlessly pressing a button. You only win once in ten, but it’s completely addictive, especially when the casino-sponsored streamers tell you it’s easy to hit the jackpot,” he says.
Some days Quentin spent hundreds of euros over several hours. “We lose everything, but we tell ourselves every time we get back together, it’s so easy to access! We are promised big beans, there is a very tempting universe with sounds of falling coins, etc. “, he describes.
“The attraction of winning, the ease of access and the bonuses offered by the platforms created a form of addiction, while at first I didn’t even like slot machines,” adds Henri, a 30-year-old who works in renovation. “It takes ten seconds to load your account with your credit card from an online bank, and you can then juggle between a game of roulette and a game of blackjack in two browser windows,” he illustrates.
Max regrets pouring all his teenage savings into it, starting with the pocket money his parents gave. One day he even lied to a friend who had offered him money to buy a new video game. “It took me a year and a half to realize, thanks to the videos I saw, that it was rubbish and that I was losing a lot of money,” he says.
Once this “addict” side is recognized, the associations recommend talking about it with loved ones and mourning the wasted money, and then contacting an addiction doctor if necessary. Max didn’t tell his parents at the time for fear of being “yelled at.” Nowadays he ‘regrets’ that he allowed himself to be seduced and just told everything to his mother. “She seemed relieved that I got out, but she was afraid that I would dive again,” says Max.
The ‘blow’ guaranteed when we don’t know how to set boundaries
Our witnesses confirm it: it is indeed possible to get out of here. Benjamin continues to play sometimes, but never alone, and only for entertainment. Henri considers himself “an intermittent addict but not dependent, because I don’t play with the money I need.” According to him, it takes experience to know when to stop and withdraw your money. “In these virtual casinos, the lessons are paid for in cash, and the youngest will only gain clarity after they have been hit and wasted everything. »
Quentin suffered this ‘blow’ when he returned from a study trip to Canada. “I played all my cryptos at once, the equivalent of 700 euros, and I lost it all in ten minutes. » According to him, the authorities should be much more active in providing prevention among young people.
“There have been many effective campaigns about the risks of alcohol, the same should happen for online games,” the student insists. And Benjamin concludes: “Players, especially young people, should be warned that the casino always wins. »