With the proliferation of gambling that’s taking place in Europe, much focus has been placed on the potential for problem gambling issues.
Gambling addictions are always part of the biggest argument put forth by gambling opponents. The issue has certainly reached a fever pitch in the UK where large gambling conglomerates are getting hit with large fines for not abiding by the self-exclusion regulations being enforced by the UK Gambling Commission.
With Sweden’s online gambling industry currently growing at a ridiculous pace over the past three years, gambling regulator Spelinspektionen means business when it comes to addressing potential problem gambling issues. Just recently, the regulator handed down fines for self-exclusion violations to one of the biggest operators Genesis Global, which was fined SEK4,000,000 (approximately $432,341) and PAF in the amount of SEK100,000 fine (approximately $10,808). In addition to the fines, both operators were warned that future violations could result in the termination of its gambling operation licenses.
How justified are these fines? In a recent report just released by the nation’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten), there was good news and very bad news. The good news was the reported existence of a gambling addiction had dropped since 2015, which was the last time a survey was performed, and the results released.
The bad news is part of a worldwide troubling trend. According to the report, the proportionate number of women who reported to having a gambling addiction had increased from 18% to an astounding 64%. Let that sink in. In just over three years, the number of women who felt they had a gambling addiction increased by 350%.
This number in not an anomaly. Throughout the world, women represent the fastest growing class of online gambler. The ability to gamble from the security of one’s home has brought women gamblers out in mass.
A good part of the appeal of online gambling for women comes from two different angles. First, women tend to be very secretive about their gambling activities. One would think with the increasing acceptance of gambling as an acceptable form of adult entertainment, women would be less concerned about the stigma of gambling in public. All indications point to the contrary.
The other angle has to do with the appeal of the games themselves. Women are notoriously attracted to the sights and sounds associated with video slots. It matters little whether those games are being played in a land-based or online casino environment. They just seem to tantalize a woman’s senses, eventually leading to a possible full-blown addiction.
While the increase in reported gambling issues among women is certainly cause for concern, an equal amount of concern needs to be directed at the increasing number of former casino players who are opting to take advantage of self-exclusion options. From January 1, 2019 through the end of March, the number of Swedish players who opted in for an indefinite period of self-exclusion was 30,000. Presumably, these people are the ones who are likely experiencing some level of difficulty related to their online gambling.
Moving forwards, these numbers bare watching as the regulators attempt to make sure online gambling is a positive experience for a vast majority of the players.