Women Are Majority of Swedish Problem Gamblers for 1st Time
The most recent survey done by the nation’s Public Health Agency of Sweden shows that though the overall number of problem gamblers has dropped since the last survey done in 2015, the number of female gambling addicts has risen tremendously. According to the Public Health Agency investigation, what was once a large gender gap among problem gamblers has disappeared.
In fact, the 2019 survey showed that today, out of the 45,000 people surveyed, 64% of the problem gamblers were women. That is an 18% jump from the 2015 survey.
The Public Health Agency said it believes that the 2019 numbers did not represent a sudden jump, but rather the gap has been narrowing for a decade.
“We have to consider the fact that the gambling market is very different now… mainly with the high proportion of gambling happening online,” gambling addiction specialist Professor Anders Håkansson said “new game forms” were changing gambling patterns.
Anders Hakansson’s Theory
He also pointed out that the different numbers might be skewed, because women report problems more often than men. Hakansson theorized, “Women who do seek treatment are more likely to report online casino gambling than men do.”
In the past men were the more prominent gamblers over women. In the current generation, men may hold the lead in overall gambling, though women are not far behind. Each year, more and more come to the table and slots, whether that be online or in casinos.
According the Hakansson, both men and women reportedly seek help, though the women may take the lead in seeking help for their addiction than men.
Online Gambling in Sweden
Though many factors are being considered, one is the large growth of online gambling in Sweden. Ulla Romild, the researcher behind the survey, said that the increase among woman along with growing number of people with gambling problem is “worrying”.
This decade, the increase in mobile gambling certainly boosted the number of women who gamble online. Once, men were more likely to confine themselves with a desktop computer. Now, men and women carry smartphones, so the rise of Android and iPhone gambling narrowed the gender gap in the gaming industry as a whole.
Moderating Problem Gambling Risks
Romild stated that though the increase in woman’s gambling addictions is a concern it is not their main focus of the study. She pointed out that the agency’s focus is “broader than only the people being dependent on gambling” Romild believes their attention needs to be “more interested in a larger group experiencing harm.”
This would be people that are open to moderate risk and gambling problems. The survey showed that the problemed group includes more than 100,000 Swedes. And for those at risk of becoming apart of that group sits 225,000.
New Swedish Gambling Regulations
A process that is being called “re-regulation” came into effect on January 1 for Swedes. The Swedish gaming regulations ended the longstanding government monopoly on online gaming. Now, for the first time, the market is opened to international operators.
This re-regulation has followed many years of legal complaints from the European Commission. The EU Commission argued that the Sweden regulation monopoly were at odds with its rules on free cross-border trade within other EU countries.
Lawmakers believe the new regulations should help problem gamblers. In an underground gaming industry, problems remain in the shadows. In a regulated environment, Swedish operators must provide helplines, hotlines, panic buttons, age verification software, and self-exclusion lists.
Spelpaus Self-Exclusion Registry
As part of the new regulation, Sweden mandated the creation of the Spelpaus national self-exclusion registry. This form of prevention contains information about all Swedes who opt to self-exclude from gambling. This exclusion can be for a set or an indefinite period of time.
Between January 1 and April 1 2019, more than 30,000 people registered with Spelpaus, so they self-exclude from gambling. Most of those registered have done so for an indefinite period of time. What this means is that, until further notice, those on the list will not be able to gamble with any operators that are licensed to provide their services on the territory of Sweden.
The new regulation also requires that licensed operators adhere to “strict requirements for moderation in marketing gambling,” though there still needs to be some work done on the issue as last week Minister for Public Administration, Ardalan Shekarabi brought attention to the “aggressive game advertising.”
Shekarabi said, “If the industry does not reach an agreement or its own solution…which leads to a noticeable change, the government will start work on limiting marketing. More needs to be done so that those who are most vulnerable in the market are protected.”