ADDICTION experts in Germany are warning that refugees are becoming hopelessly hooked on gambling and are losing their subsistence money from taxpayers in ever increasing numbers.
Allan Hall in Berlin
Three German states have chosen to highlight the dark allure of betting - online, in turf accountants and at high street casinos - on a special day of action to highlight the trend.
The states of Hesse, Lower Saxony and Thuringia are backing a new video in German, Turkish and Arabic warning of the dangers of gambling.
It warns of the dangers of gambling with images of ruination and despair for those who continue to have one flutter too many.
Martina Kuhnt, the gambling expert of the Lower Saxony Regional Office
In addition, German betting offices and casinos traditionally offer free food and drink to gamblers, appealing to refugees who want a change of scene from their hostels and centres where there is often little to do.
According to experts, the refugees often group around a self-styled sports expert among their ranks who advises them on what to bet on and how high to make the stakes.
There are reports of some migrants blowing a month's pocket money in a single day - sometimes even a single bet.
Addiction experts said they are finding it difficult to offer therapy to deal with the problem as the refugees often keep their debts a secret out of shame.
The gambling problem follows on from a massive spike in alcohol abuse among young migrants, particularly unaccompanied individuals. In their strict Muslim homelands, these young men had little or no experience of booze.
But in Germany, where it is legal to drink beer at 16, they are becoming increasingly probe to alcohol addiction and some are already in state programmes to wean them off the hard stuff.