Mutual support societies of problem gamblers have been present in Sweden for 20 years. These societies have helped more people with gambling problems than any other institution inside or outside the Swedish health care system.
Most of the mutual support societies belong to the National Association of Gambling Addicts (Spelberoendes riksförbund, SBRF). SBRF and its local member societies represent a cross-fertilization between the Anonymous Alcoholics concept, modern self-help ideology, and traditional Swedish organizational culture (see this article).
On December 6-7 the national organization SBRF held a conference in Gothenburg. The presentations and panel discussions on the first day were about gambling policy and the organization of treatment in the Nordic countries. Norway is only Nordic country that has a national plan for the prevention of problem gambling.
Håkan Wall from the National Helpline for problem gamblers presented fresh statistics on calls to the helpline. As in many previous years, EGMs (Electronic Gaming Machines) were the main problem for about a third of the callers. Casino games (online and brick-and-mortar) were problematic for 23 percent of callers.
The second day included a presentation from the mutual support society in Gothenburg. About 50 people participate in the mutual support meetings each week, which is an increase from about 40 in previous years. Many have problems with internet casinos and internet sports betting. I held a presentation about recent research findings internationally about problem gambling and treatment.