Svenska Spel: No Coronavirus-Related Rise in Problem Gambling

Swedish gambling operator Svenska Spel did not notice an increase in problem gambling during the first wave of coronavirus in the country, yet noted players known for their excessive gambling continued to do so. The state-owned company summarized findings from several studies presented to its Independent Research Council during its annual research day, Monday, October 12.

Gambling Spend Falling, Problem Gambling Stable

Svenska Spel noted that the general consensus among all studies presented is that while overall gambling spend during the early months of the coronavirus fell, the level of problem gambling remained almost unchanged.

Research at Karolinska Institutet saw a clear shift among online players, who substituted sports betting for online casino. Filip Lindner, a researcher at the institute, noted that the decline in gambling spend was no surprise on the back of the drop in sports betting caused by the cancellations and postponements of sporting events. During the first wave of the virus-induced health crisis there were no clear signs of increase in problem gambling behavior, Lindner outlined.

No Increase in Problem Gambling Referrals

Yet, despite the drop in gambling spend, players who had suffered in the past with excessive gambling tended to spend more than the others, Anders Håkansson, a professor at Lund University, added. The professor who also works at an addiction center in Sweden, pointed out there had been no increase in referrals to the treatment venue.

His finding was confirmed by Anna Söderpalm Gordh, a senior lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, who also works at an addiction center. She noted the treatment center she works at also did not see an increase in the number of people directed for treatment.

The decline in gambling was confirmed by the financial results in July, when Svenska Spel reported a 9.6% decline in revenue for the first half of 2020 year-on-year. In  nominal terms, H1 2020 revenue was SEK3.7 billion ($420 million), where an increase in its lottery business was offset by the slump in sports and online casino, as well as land-based casinos Casino Cosmpol and Vegas divisions.

Svenska Spel’s council was also presented with a separate study into gambling-related criminal activities, covering the period between 2014 and 2018. Per Binde, an associate professor at the University of Gothenburg covered court rulings for the period based on a number of factors, such as gender, age group, type of crime, place of living and how a game was linked to crime.

His findings discovered a correlation between gender, criminal record and place of living, as women with no previous criminal background who lived in smaller cities more often committed gambling-related crime. Men, who are prone to such criminal actions have a criminal background and live in a large city.

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