Swedish former monopoly operator Svenska Spel has issued responsible gambling advice for players spending more time at home due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, but said it has not yet seen any signs of higher-risk gambling.
Svenska Spel said it is continuing to observe player behaviour and has increased the number of interventions in makes for players who show signs of problem behaviour.
The operator's sustainability manager Kajsa Nylander and responsible gambling data analyst Axel Lyckberg said the number of new players has increased, but average spending has not.
“We see a marginally increased interest in poker, bingo and casino,” the pair explained. “For casino, the increase is so low that we cannot currently discern whether it is a Covid-19 effect or a natural growth.
“What is more important is that although the games attract new players, we have not yet seen average consumption of these games rise. Average spending per customer for poker, bingo and casino is at the same levels as before the coronavirus outbreak.
“Many are worried that gambling problems could increase when people are forced to sit at home a lot,” the pair continued. “We share this concern, but note that risk gaming does not yet appear to have increased at Svenska Spel.”
However, Nylander added that if any gamblers are experiencing problems, they can take measures such as setting spending limits or self-excluding if necessary.
“It's good to set limits on how much you can play for,” Nylander said. “That, together with observing your gaming history, is a good way to keep track of your gaming yourself so that it does not overpower you. But if you feel a fear of losing control, you can self-exclude from all gaming.”
Anders Håkansson, professor of gambling addiction at Lund University and chief physician at Skåne County addiction center in Malmö, said the absence of sports events could see players move to casino, which may cause players to gamble more if they are unused to it.
“There is a risk of switching to online games, such as online casino,” Håkansson said. “With their speed and accessibility, they are very risky for those who have addiction problems. It's like having a slot machine in the home around the clock.”
Håkansson added that the disruption in everyday life, including a lack of clear routine or structure for many people, is likely to lead to difficulty for many people with addictions of all kinds.
“When gambling for money is no longer a pleasure but becomes a constraint that has consequences, then you may need to seek help to change that behavior”
Earlier this month, Svenska Spel hit out at media reports in the country suggesting there has been a significant rise in online casino gambling, which it described as “misleading”.