New publication on problem gambling terminology

spelberoende_doodle3bThe new issue of the journal Lotteriinspektionens skriftserie (in Swedish) includes an article of mine. The article is about Swedish terminology relating to problem gambling and aims at clarifying some of the most common terms. You find an abstract below as well as a link to the article.

Lotteriinspektionens skriftserie (“Periodical of the Swedish Gambling Authority”) is published twice a year. It includes articles about various aspects of gambling, but naturally the focus is on legislation and regulation. The most recent issue (no. 4) contains two other articles besides mine. One is about gambling law, by Torbjörn Ingvarsson from Uppsala University, the other about gender and gambling, by Jessika Svensson from the Swedish National Institute of Public Health.


  • Binde, Per. 2013. ”Spelberoende” och relaterade begrepp: Vad betyder de egentligen? [“Pathological gambling” and related terms: What do they actually mean?]. Lotteriinspektionens skriftserie, no. 4, p. 19-38.

ABSTRACT [Translated to English] “Pathological gambling” and similar terms, such as “problem gambling” and “excessive gambling”, are used with different meanings. We come across the terms in official texts and mass media. Sometimes the author is not fully aware about what they actually mean. Other times, the reader interprets the words in a way that is not consistent with what is intended. Concepts and statistical data from various studies, relating to the prevalence of problem gambling, are also present in media and sometimes used in ways that do not correspond to their actual meanings. All this contributes to confusion about gambling issues and misunderstandings in discussions and debates. This article wants to clarify key concepts in the field of problem gambling. It is aimed primarily at lay people and has two main parts. The first section of the article deals with concepts related to problem gambling and negative consequences of gambling; the second section is about key concepts in scientific studies of the population prevalence of problem gambling.

> Read the article (in Swedish)


    • Frida Fröberg on January 7, 2014 at 9:55 am
    • Reply

    Hej Per! Det var intressant läsning tycker jag, en bra sammanfattning. Jag har faktiskt inte reflekterat över termen “problemspelare” analogt med “problembarn” men det är ju verkligen helt rätt. Låter ju inte alls särskilt bra om man inte är anglofierad.
    Jag vet inte om det stämmer, men jag har hört det sägas att engelskans “alcohol problem” syftar ungefär på “alkoholmissbruk” till skillnad från “alkoholberoende”, och att engelskans “gambling problem” skulle ha tillkommit i linje med begreppet “alkoholmissbruk”. Om det stämmer är ju den ordagranna översättningen av “gambling problem” till “spelproblem” inte en fullträff, eftersom det verkar som att vi på svenska uppfattar “alkoholproblem” eller “spelproblem” som mer generella, övergripande begrepp som innefattar alla slags problem med alkohol eller spel.
    Det här bli en artikel som iaf jag kommer att referera till i framtiden!

    • Samantha Thomas on March 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Per

    Is there any chance of getting a copy of this in English?



    1. Hi Samantha!
      The discussions in the first part of the article are about how “problem gambling” and other similar terms are used in Swedish. This in relation to Swedish terminology about addictions and drug abuse more generally. The semantic spaces and connotations of such terms differ between languages. For example, it is much more common in Swedish than in English to speak about “gambling addiction” and “gambling abuse”, while “pathological gambling” is very uncommon. And mass media sometimes refer to research results from Swedish prevalence surveys where terms such as “at risk gambler” and “problem gambler” are used in a specific sense, referring to PGSI scoring, which do not correspond well to what most Swedes would think of when they hear the terms. Things like that often lead to confusion in the public debate and that was one reason for me to write the article.

      So at least half of the text is specific to the Swedish terms and their usage. A similar article could be written about English terms relating to “problem gambling” and their usage in varying contexts, but I believe that this would be done best by a native speaker of English who is sensitive to the subtle nuances of meaning that such words have.

      The second part of the article gives advice to lay people about how to interpret results from prevalence surveys of problem gambling. It is more general in scope than the first part but relies much on examples from Sweden.

      I guess that articles like this would be welcome in other countries and with respect to other languages. I hope that there are people who will take time writing them. I would myself appreciate a similar article in English (including differences between English and American usage).

      Best regards,


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