Sweden: Drug addicts outnumber men for the first time



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The number of players decreases in Sweden – but there are more women among those who do

For the first time, the majority of Swedes suffering from gambling addiction are women, according to the latest statistics from the health authority.

The report revealed that there was more gender gap among problem gamblers, half of whom were women.

And of the 45,000 people with a problem serious enough to be considered gambling addiction, 64% were women.

This represents an increase of only 18% in 2015 – this increase being largely attributed to the increase in online gaming.

The survey of 5,000 people revealed that the total number of problem gamblers had decreased since the last analysis published in 2015.

But at the same time, the number of problem gamblers has increased by 50% – the category in which the gender gap has disappeared.

The number of women with gambling problems has increased in the last 10 years, the public health agency said.

Ulla Romild, the investigator behind the report, said that despite the general downsizing, it was "worrisome" that serious problems were worsening "and that we were witnessing an increase in number of women ".

She said that from a public health perspective, the high proportion of gambling-dependent women, those with the most serious problem, was not the most important result.

"Our goal is broader than gambling addicts," she said. "We are more interested in a larger group that is being harmed … a combination of people at moderate risk and gambling problems."

This group comprises more than 100,000 people, or just under 1.5% of the Swedish population. Another 225,000 people, just under 3% of the population, are likely to become problem gamblers.

The report highlights the growing number of online gambling and money games and the "new forms of gambling" on the Internet that are changing gambling patterns.

Professor Anders Håkansson of Lund University, a specialist in gambling addiction, told Radio Sweden that this could partly explain the rise in gambling among women.

"We have to take into account that the money games market is very different now … mainly with the high proportion of online gambling," he said.

"Women seeking treatment are more likely than men to report gambling in online casinos," he said.

"Aggressive" advertising

Since January 1, Sweden has been implementing a new licensing system for games of chance and lotteries and the country is now studying how these games are announced.

The Minister of Public Administration, Ardalan Shekarabi, issued a statement alongside the report promising to "end aggressive gaming advertising".

The gambling industry had proposed a form of self-regulation, but Shekarabi said on Wednesday that it "will not be enough".

"More needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable in the market," he said.

In the UK, the gaming commission indicates that men are much more likely to have gambling problems: 0.9% vs. 0.1% of the population. In the United States, the gap between male and female players is narrowing, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling – and women even outnumber men in the 45 to 64 age group years.

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