European Countries Address Low-Income, Minority Gambling Harm

March 22, 2023
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Fresh concerns surrounding gambling harms experienced by low-income households and minorities have come to light in Great Britain, Sweden and Cyprus as the cost of living crisis rages on across Europe.

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Fresh concerns surrounding gambling harms experienced by low-income households and minorities have come to light in Great Britain, Sweden and Cyprus as the cost of living crisis rages on across Europe.

New research in Great Britain highlights how social inequality such as low income and discrimination are linked to gambling harm experienced by minority groups.

Minorities had a lower gambling participation rate of 31 percent, compared with 48 percent among non-minorities.

However, 42 percent of minority groups said they have experienced some form of harm from gambling compared with 20 percent of white British majority groups.

The research was undertaken by Ipsos UK and ClearView Research, supported by the University of Manchester, and published by UK charity GambleAware on March 21.

The findings highlight a number of structural factors associated with higher levels of gambling harm, including income levels, social inequalities and experience of discrimination.

For instance, income is a factor considered to be associated with levels of gambling-related harms and this is “far more pronounced for minority groups”, according to the report.

Around 24 percent of minority groups with a household income of less than £26,000 scored a high (8+) PGSI score, compared with just 5 percent among white British people, according to the research.

“This suggests that household income may be an important factor in the relationship between minority group status and experience of gambling,” the report states.

Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, said the findings are “alarming” and demonstrate the need for further investigation and tailored solutions.

“We need to break down the barriers to accessing support, and challenge the stigma and discrimination faced by these communities,” Osmond said.

Niamh McGarry, a director at ClearView and contributor to the report, similarly said: “Services must be designed with the voice of minority communities centered throughout, and this research helps demonstrate that specific attention and specialised support is needed to effectively address these inequalities.”

A qualitative study investigating the relationship between racism, discrimination and gambling harms is underway and will be published by GambleAware later this year.

Elsewhere in Europe, when it comes to addressing the impact of low-income gambling on harm, Sweden’s minister of financial markets, Niklas Wykman, has invited stakeholders to discuss the consequences of a worse economic situation for gambling problems.

Problem gambling researchers, the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) and the Public Health Agency of Sweden will participate in the roundtable, where they will discuss what regulatory developments may be necessary “during more difficult times”.

“The current economic situation means that many households are in a pressured situation. It is important to discuss what risks the economic situation may entail for the development of destructive gambling behaviour and whether there is a need to take measures,” Wykman said.

Fears expressed by the Swedish government may be somewhat quelled by state-owned operator Svenska Spel’s revelation on March 21 that it had not seen an increase in at-risk gambling behaviours among its players despite the financial situation in Sweden worsening for consumers.

In fact, customers showing signs of risky gambling behaviour have spent less money gambling during January and February 2023 compared with the same period in 2022.

“This tendency is particularly clear in online casinos,” according to Svenska Spel.

Despite the findings, the operator has pledged to continue to make additional interactive calls with customers.

Other jurisdictions in Europe are already actively trying to address concerns regarding low-income households' gambling, with various jurisdictions banning people from gambling if they are on debt registers or failing to make legally obligated payments, such as child support.

Cyprus is the latest jurisdiction with plans to address these concerns, as the country seeks to roll out a new self-exclusion system, in partnership with the ministries of health and labor, which will prevent welfare recipients from gambling.

Details of the self-exclusion register were discussed by Ioanna Fiakkou, the chair of the National Betting Authority, at a meeting with the Finance and Budget Committee of Parliament on March 15.

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