The amount of “risky gamblers” in Sweden has remained consistent over the past three years, according to the latest data released by the Swedish Public Health Agency.
In the latest national public health survey, around 4 percent of 16-84 olds self-reported “risky gambling”, the same level observed in the 2020 and 2018 surveys.
Gambling participation rates have actually fallen among men and women since 2004, with just 56 percent of the population playing over the past year in 2021 and 2020, compared with 71 percent in 2004.
Ann-Sofie Olsson, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) acting secretary-general, told VIXIO they have known the figures would remain the same for a long time.
The BOS head said the stats do not change the fundamental need to know and understand the customer so they can be safe, “in good and bad times”.
“Gambling policies should focus on strategies that use predictive responsible gambling tools and keep the customers in the regulated market. This is what we always come back to in discussions with the regulator and the government,” Olsson said.
Men remain more likely to report risky gambling behaviours. Just 2 percent of women fell under that classification, compared with 6 percent of men.
Risky gambling is still most common among young men aged 16–29 and is most prevalent among people without a post-secondary education.
Unemployment and “financial crisis”, meaning someone cannot pay SEK11,000 (€1,096) a month without borrowing money, also have a negative impact on people's gambling habits.
Risky gambling is twice as high among the unemployed, compared with the working population, both among men and women.
Among women in financial crisis, the proportion undertaking risky gambling has doubled from 3 percent in 2020 to 6 percent in 2021.
Risky gambling is defined by the Swedish Public Health Agency as meaning a person has had at least one negative financial consequence or at least one addiction symptom.
The national health surveys are run every two years; however, due to the impacts of COVID-19, an additional survey with 17,578 respondents was conducted between February and May 2021.
The latest survey findings come soon after the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) was assigned to look into introducing more gambling consumer protection measures and the government considers applying alcohol-style restrictions on gambling adverts.
A spokesperson from the SGA did not comment on the data, but reiterated it is currently assessing the effects of temporary gambling responsibility measures.
The deposit and bonus limits caused heavy backlash from gambling industry stakeholders, who questioned its necessity.
The temporary restrictions, which were extended, came to an end on November 14.
In June, Sweden’s Committee on the Constitution (KU) said it will assess whether comments made by a government minister to justify the temporary measures were unfounded.
Separately, Susanna Raisamo, a research manager from the neighbouring Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), said the latest figures from her country show 19 percent of the population exhibited “risky gambling” behaviours.
“Despite differences in the measurement, the difference in risky-level gambling is still substantial between Sweden and Finland,” Raisamo said.