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May 15

Internet poker problems decline

A recent report from the Swedish national helpline for problem gamblers shows a significant decrease in calls relating to internet poker, from 30 percent in 2007 to 21 percent in 2010. In absolute numbers the decrease is even more striking: down from 173 calls in 2007 to 86 in 2010. On the other hand, calls relating to problems with internet casinos went up from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2010. Also the calls relating to internet sports betting increased in number. If the calls relating to any forms of internet gambling are summarized, they make up about 43 percent of all the calls.

Electronic gaming machines (the Svenska Spel’s “Vegas” machines) are still the main reason (31 percent) for problem gamblers to call the helpline. About another 8 percent of the calls relate to other forms of EGMs (illegal, in casinos and internet slots), thus in sum 39 percent.

Thus, by far the most risky forms of gambling in Sweden, judging from helpline statistics, are internet gambling and EGMs. This is in line with my analysis of data from eighteen problem gambling prevalence studies from eleven countries. The analysis suggested that the four most risky forms of gambling appear to be interactive internet games, EGMs, casino gambling and unregulated gambling. Since we have only four casinos in Sweden, it cannot be expected that the gambling problems relating to these will be big on the national level (8 percent of the helpline calls). The helpline statistics does not give any figures on unregulated/illegal gambling, but probably the problems are not very big. The Swedish market is saturated with gambling products offered by companies licensed in Sweden or elsewhere. The helpline statistics are also by large in line with the most recent Swedish problem gambling prevalence report.

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