Women Make Up Majority of Gambling-Addicted Swedes for First Time Ever: Study

Posted on: April 5, 2019, 08:36h. 

Last updated on: April 5, 2019, 08:36h.

Women now make up the majority of people with gambling problems in Sweden, according to a new survey by the country’s health authority. The survey found that of an estimated 45,000 Swedes believed to be problem gamblers, 64 percent were women.

Problem gambling
Research showed that problem gambling among women in Sweden had grown an extraordinary 18 percent in four years, although the number of people gambling overall had decreased. (Image: Shutterstock)

It’s the first time a survey of this nature anywhere has placed women ahead of men in the category of gambling addiction. All other studies have shown men to be significantly more susceptible to problem gambling. Recent research from the UK Gambling Commission suggests men are more than seven times as likely to develop issues with gambling.

But in the US the gender gap has been narrowing for some time – and women already slightly outnumber men in the 45-64 age group.

‘New Game Forms’ Changing Landscape

While the Swedish study found that fewer people were gambling in general since its last survey in 2015, problem gambling among women had risen an extraordinary18 percent, an increase it attributes to the rise in online gaming which offers the types of gambling women traditionally prefer, such as bingo, lottery, and slots.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden said it believed 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 told Radio Sweden this week, adding that “new game forms” were changing gambling patterns.

“Women who do seek treatment are more likely to report online casino gambling than men do,” he added.

Concerns Over ‘Re-Regulation’

Last year Sweden broke with the longstanding government monopoly on online gaming and for the first time opened up the market to international operators, a process of so-called “re-regulation” that came into force on January 1.

The new regime requires operators adhere to “strict requirements for moderation in marketing gambling,” but Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi complained this week of “aggressive game advertising.”

“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,” Shekarabi said. “More needs to be done so that those who are most vulnerable in the market are protected.”

The Swedish reforms came after years of legal complaints from the European Commission, which argued that the state-owned monopoly was at odds with its rules on free cross-border trade within the EU.