Problem gambling in the financial sector: A pilot study

bankmanI will soon begin a study on problem gambling among employees in the financial sector. The Swedish Public Health Agency has financed the study, which is planned to run for one year.

Why the financial sector? It’s because there are reasons to believe that problem gambling among employees in this occupational sector has particularly severe consequences. There have been quite a few cases in Sweden in the past years when individuals addicted to gambling have embezzled huge sums of money and, when this has been disclosed, being fired from their jobs and having to serve time in jail. This has brought harm also to their families, employers, and the employers’ customers.

A hypothesis of the study is that potential access to huge sums of money is a risk factor for developing problem gambling with particularly severe consequences. The problems may accelerate quickly and the individual may soon reach the perceived point of no return when trying to win back the big losses appears as the only solution, which makes things even worse. Another hypothesis is that some people working in the financial sector have chosen to do so because they like the thrill of making transactions with huge sums of money and taking financial risks (e.g. trading stocks), which makes them especially vulnerable to risky and excessive gambling. About this connection: read the article The Risk Addicts in the Financial Times.

This is a small-scale preliminary study and I will work part time with it. The aim of the study is to lay the foundation for the development of preventive methods for problem gambling in the financial sector. I will therefore gather information about prevention of substance-related problems in workplaces where the employees have potential access to addictive substances, such as alcohol prevention among restaurant personnel and prescription drug abuse among health care professionals.

However, since little is known about gambling problems in the financial sector, I will start with drawing a preliminary picture of the situation. The study will use multimodal methodology, including an examination of newspaper articles, qualitative interviews with problem gamblers from the financial sector, interviews with Human Resources managers at banks, gathering of information from problem gambling counselors, and statistical analysis of population data that contain coding of professional categories and information about gambling participation.

If anyone who reads this has an interest in this topic, or knows about relevant research, please let me know.

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