Centralförbundet för Alkohol-och Narkotikaupplysning (CAN), Sweden’s central agency monitoring addiction behaviours, has warned of a higher risk of prevalence in teenagers being drawn to gambling.
The caution follows a study undertaken by CAN researchers that surveyed 24,000 students attending Gymnasium – Sweden’s upper secondary school system.
The state-operated Gymnasium system is open to Swedish children aged 16 years to prepare them for higher learning at college, university or through internships.
CAN’s survey was undertaken to find insights and connections between ‘risky gambling’ and other forms of addiction such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco that have been registered by Swedish teenagers.
The report’s headline insight detailed that gambling risks were more prominent in children that had started using alcohol, drugs or tobacco before the age of 14.
Survey responses revealed that 3% of students had admitted to gambling in ninth grade prior to entering the Gymnasium system. The number increased to 5% by the second year of upper secondary school.
Poker represented the most common gambling game amongst teenagers surveyed registering 11%, followed by national lottery products registering 10% and 9% of respondents stating that they had placed a sports betting wager.
Of note, CAN underlined that survey responses to risky gambling participation significantly weighted the participation of teenage males.
The prevalence of participating in risky gambling increased after children reached 18, a trend that mirrors that of ‘intensive consumption of alcohol’.
CAN has advised gambling policy makers to focus on promoting age limits, targeting teenagers at the formative ages of 16-to-18, with warnings reflecting male participation.
Alongside Spelberoendes Riksförbund, Sweden’s National Association for Problem Gambling, Swedish health/addiction clinics have recommended the government to bolster resources tackling problem gambling.
Publishing its 2021 report, Spelberoendes Riksförbund estimated that 350,000 Swedes were at risk of developing problem gambling harms, as a total of 40,000 adults had registered with the agency as problem gamblers.
Foreign and domestic operators await the conclusion of Sweden’s national election which, on Sunday, registered a deadlock in results as the governing Social Democrat coalition fended off a right-wing challenge by a coalition led by Sweden’s Moderate party.
The winner will take charge of reforming ‘phase-2’ of the Swedish Gambling Act, which was relaunched in 2019 to regulate the country’s online gambling marketplace.