|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 6
“Holidays” in people who are addicted to lotteries: A window of treatment opportunity provided by the COVID-19 lockdown
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Rajagiri School of Behavioural Sciences and Research, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Autonomous), Kochi, Kerala, India
|Date of Submission||15-Sep-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||15-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||02-Oct-2020|
Dr. Sanju George
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Rajagiri School of Behavioural Sciences and Research, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Autonomous), Kalamassery, Kochi, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
George S. “Holidays” in people who are addicted to lotteries: A window of treatment opportunity provided by the COVID-19 lockdown. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36, Suppl S1:6
|How to cite this URL:|
George S. “Holidays” in people who are addicted to lotteries: A window of treatment opportunity provided by the COVID-19 lockdown. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 May 12];36, Suppl S1:6. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2020/36/5/6/297165
No one who plays the lottery deserves any luck because even luck deserts the stupid
– Source unknown.
Of the very few forms of gambling legally permitted in India, lotteries are the most popular. Lotteries are legal in 12 states and five union territories in India. In Kerala, their sale exclusively rests with the state government, primarily due to it being a source of considerable revenue for the state. Albeit a harmless pastime for most, many people, especially from the lower socioeconomic strata in India, get addicted to playing the lottery. Numerous are instances and reports of daily-wage laborers spending more than their daily earnings on buying the lottery and chasing a big win, thereby wrecking their personal, social, financial, and family lives in the course of this addiction.
There is very little systematic research in this area from India, but anecdotal evidence supports the above observations. An interesting observation in the Indian setting is that those who are addicted to the lottery most often only engage in this form of gambling and not in other forms such as online gambling, private betting, or casino-based gambling.
During the lockdown period (March 21–May 21, 2020), an unusually high number of lottery addicts came seeking help in my psychiatric practice. In my opinion, this was directly attributable to the abrupt stoppage of the sale of lotteries by the Government of Kerala as part of the state-wide lockdown. Lotteries were not made available for a 2-month period in Kerala from March 21 to May 21, 2020. Although the sale of lotteries resumed thereafter, many lottery addicts who entered treatment (which consisted of a combination of psychotherapy and short-term pharmacological interventions) engaged fully and abstained successfully from the lottery beyond the easing of lockdown.
Lockdown, despite the many practical hassles it posed to most, provided a crucial window of opportunity for lottery addicts to seek treatment (detoxification and rehabilitation), and to turn their (and their families') lives around. It needs to be borne in mind that such “clinical observations” need to be substantiated and followed up by “evidence-based” systematic research. Nevertheless, based on preliminary anecdotal evidence, it makes me wonder if such lottery “holidays” are worth considering a public health prevention strategy to encourage more lottery addicts to receive treatment and support, thereby benefiting them and their families. Going further than lottery “holidays” would be a call for a ban on lotteries, which may not be a viable option for the government due to the following reasons: considerable tax revenues generated from the sale of lotteries, employment provided to retail lottery sellers, chance for many individuals to engage in a leisure activity, and so on.
From a public health perspective, there are lessons to be learned from this observation, both in policy development and treatment of other addictions (such as alcohol and tobacco), whose sales were also banned on similar lines during the lockdown period.
| References|| |
George S, Jaisoorya T, Nair S, Rani A, Menon P, Madhavan R, et al
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George S. An overview of gambling in Kerala. Kerala J Psychiatry 2017;30:24-30.
George S, Velleman R, Nadkarni A. Gambling in India: Past, present and future. Asian J Psychiatry 2017;26:39-43.
George S. The story of a lottery addict in India: Who is responsible and what are its policy implications? J Gambl Issues 2019;41:1-3.