Danish lawmakers will discuss new measures to tackle gambling addiction and a local trade group has announced several changes, after a new report revealed that the number of people with gambling problems has more than doubled since 2016.
An estimated 478,000 people in the country (10.9 percent of adults) exhibit at least a low level of problem gambling, according to a study on the prevalence of gambling problems in Denmark in 2021. In 2016, this figure was approximately 212,000 people (5.2 percent of adults).
Following the publication of the study, Jeppe Bruus, the minister of taxation, said he is taking the results “very seriously” and that they show a need to do more to combat gambling addiction.
“The development we are seeing in the gambling area is very worrying. We know that gambling addiction can have major and long-term consequences and that children and young people in particular are at risk,” Bruus said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Taxation told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that it is too early to say which initiatives will be proposed by politicians.
“As of now, the plan is tentative, that the government will present its initiatives sometime after the summer vacation. Then there will be a political discussion with the other parties in the autumn,” the ministry said.
Spillebranchen, previously the Danish Online Gambling Association (DOGA), said the gambling industry is also concerned about the increase in problem gamblers, as well as a raft of its own initiatives to tackle the problem.
The trade association members will now refrain from using celebrities to market their gaming products. However, its members will still be able to sponsor sports teams.
Morten Rønde, director of Spillebranchen, said “the use of celebrities in advertising is something that experts have pointed out has a strong effect on young people in particular and will be able to influence gaming behaviour negatively, and we listen to that”.
Additionally, members of the trade group will no longer use animations that may appeal to children and young people in marketing or include any people under the age of 25 in advertising.
The trade group’s changes come as the study found among children and young people between the ages of 12-17, who are legally not allowed to gamble, 24,500 have at least a low level of gambling problems (6 percent). An estimated 2,600 children (0.6 percent) have serious gambling problems.
Young people that play video games were more than twice as likely to have at least a low level of problem gambling compared with those that do not play video games, “a statistically significant difference” of 7.3 percent compared with 3.4 percent.
Young gamers that also gamble and used in-game items such as skins and loot boxes exhibited far higher levels of problem gambling.
Around 11.5 percent of skins users are problem gamblers, compared with 4.2 percent of gamers that do not use them, and 12.7 percent of loot box users are problem gamblers, compared with 4.7 of gamers that do not use them.
Spillebranchen will launch a new responsible gambling information campaign that will include messaging about adults monitoring their children’s gaming habits.
Rønde said: “We also hope that the government will soon put its own important initiatives into effect. For example, we are waiting for an identity card that the parliamentary parties agreed on in 2021 to be introduced. The card is an important tool for ensuring that young people under the age of 18 do not gamble in physical stores.”
The study found that, in 2021, there were approximately 29,500 adult Danes who have serious gambling problems (0.67 percent) compared with around 16,000 (0.38 percent) in 2016. However, the study says this is “not statistically significant” and therefore it cannot conclude there has been an increase in gambling addicts.
A policy agreement in 2017 requires Danish authorities to carry out a survey of gambling and gambling problems every five years.
The study is commissioned by the Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) and undertaken by Rambøll Management Consulting.
A survey was sent out to 10,000 adults and 5,000 children, which was completed by 38.6 percent of adults and 35.7 percent of the children. It used the PGSI screening to measure the incidence of gambling problems.
A recent study written for the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) said “highly diverse” methods of recording problem gambling in Europe make it difficult for any valuable cross-country comparisons to be made.
However, the study says, noting certain differences in the collection methods used between the countries, that in Sweden the adult population from the ages 16-84 year-olds with some form of problem gambling was estimated to be 4.3 percent in 2022, and in Norway, among 16-74 year-olds, it was estimated to be 13.8 percent in 2019.