Swedish senior clinicians have highlighted that data-lags are impeding Sweden’s healthcare network from treating problem gambling addiction effectively.
Last week, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet featured an editorial by psychiatric clinicians citing concerns that the country’s healthcare network required deeper resources to treat and identify gambling harms.
Concerns were cited by Dr Anders Håkansson of the Malmo Addiction Clinic, who cited that Sweden had limited research on gambling addiction, triggers and behaviours.
Håkansson noted the difficulty of providing direct support for vulnerable individuals as “there is a delay in terms of time before we see a possible increase in the number who come to addiction care.”
“We actually know relatively little about how long it takes people to develop problems. I am worried about the dark speech that may be behind the development right now where people may be even more attracted to advertising for quick money.”
As stands, gambling addiction research is recorded by Folkhälsomyndigheten, Sweden’s Public Health Agency, which outputs data on a yearly basis. Aftonbladet reports that according to agency data recorded during 2021, “over 4% of Swedes had some degree of gambling problem in 2021, according to the statistics”.
Spelberoendes Riksförbund, the national association for gambling addicts,has led calls for improved data resources to help Swedish addiction services.
Chairman Daniel Harre expressed that it was ineffective for Swedish clinicians to use outdated data and foreign academic studies to treat problem gambling. He shared common concerns in which Spelberoendes “sees the effects quite a long time later, as people who get stuck often have a long way to go before they seek help.”
“There is a darkness growing now, I believe, without a doubt. We will meet people going forward who have started gambling, relapsed or escalated their gambling because of the situation.”
In 2022 the Riksdag agreed to amend Sweden’s online gambling laws, applying changes on stricter player protections, id verifications and advertising standards, yet no reforms were provided on gambling addiction treatment or research.
Aware of data concerns, last year, Kindred joined state-owned competitor Svenska Spel and ATG to launch a data-sharing project to publish ‘open metrics on problem gambling’ that will be made available to the public.
The Trio, which accounts for more than half of Sweden’s regulated gambling marketplace, seeks to “contribute to a facts-based dialogue on what is being done to reduce gambling harm”.
Work has begun to present the project’s open data framework, in which the operators seek to provide the government and stakeholders with a “four-point data report published bi-annually, informing the public of gambling harm developments.”