Norway has come a long way in protecting its gamblers, so much so that the country announced this week that it has slashed its number of problem gamblers in half.
According to a recent survey compiled by Spillforsk, there are currently 23,000 problem gamblers in Norway. That’s down from 55,000 just four years ago. Similarly, the number of at-risk consumers has also dropped to 93,000, a decline of 24% from 2019.
Although this is evidently good news for all involved, you might be wondering how Norway’s problem gambling progress compares to other major markets in Europe. VegasSlotsOnline News has taken a look through the data so you don’t have to.
Finland – Rate: 0.8%
Much like Norway, Finland has a monopoly gambling system under the government-owned Veikkaus. This allows the nation to keep a close eye on its gamblers and ensure they aren’t losing control. However, it also could be argued that this increases the black-market risk as gamblers look for alternative options – a view supported by the fact the nation’s problem gambling rate is higher than others in Europe.
50% of Finnish gambling takes place on unlicensed sites
Earlier this year, Veikkaus announced that it had welcomed a study comparing Finland’s monopoly system with other European markets. The study found that 50% of Finnish gambling takes place on unlicensed sites, meaning an open market is looking more and more likely in Finland. This is something the report suggested would “significantly improve” the channelization to legal gambling.
Veikkaus has since said it is open to the idea of a licensed gambling market. The CEO only affirmed that the transition should happen “faster rather than slowly.”
Denmark – Rate: 0.7%
Just a few years ago, Denmark was joint with Spain as the nation with the lowest problem gambling rate in Europe. Its numbers have spiked considerably since then, however, and the nation is acting in an attempt to bring this number back down to where it should be.
In April, the Danish government announced that it would provide annual funding of DK10m ($1.5m) to problem gambling research and treatment from 2023 to 2025. Citing the “worrying” increase in problem gambling rates as a reason, officials said they would mainly use the funds on “targeting information” towards children and young people.
nearly 500,000 people in Denmark have some degree of gambling problem
Viewing figures from the Danish Gambling Regulator this year found that nearly 500,000 people in Denmark have some degree of gambling problem. Jeppe Bruus, Denmark Minister for Taxation, said the government has a “special obligation” to protect the nation’s vulnerable groups from gambling harm.
Norway – Rate: 0.4%
*Source: Lotteri- og stiftelsesestilsynet*
In announcing news of its rate slash this week, Norway’s gambling regulator Lotteri- og stiftelsesestilsynet attributed the progress to its work on safer gambling initiatives and tools. A new debt register prevents Norwegians from losing too much to gambling, while from Wednesday this week, Norwegian players under 20 years of age will have a reduced maximum monthly spending limit.
In addition, the regulator has cracked down on the illegal black market, increasing the channelization levels through Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto – the only firms allowed to offer gaming legally in the country. This has included blocking bank deposits from offshore sites and cracking down on illegal TV ads.
UK – Rate: 0.3%
*Source: Public Health England*
The UK public has a very strained relationship with its gambling market. While its one of the most mature markets in the world, regularly bringing in $14bn+ ($17.5bn+) each year, operators and suppliers are dealing with tighter and tighter restrictions as anti-gambling groups continue their fight.
around 230,000 people are addicted to gambling in the country
Perhaps surprising to some anti-gambling voices in the country, the UK actually has one of the lowest problem gambling rates in Europe. The UK Gambling Commission has estimated that this ratio of 0.3% may be even lower still, but Public Health England has estimated that around 230,000 people are addicted to gambling in the country.
MPs and anti-gambling groups are not satisfied there though, and high-profile incidents such as the recent Ivan Toney betting saga continue to bring the industry into ill repute. So much so that the government recently published its White Paper on gambling reform. Among other measures, MPs are introducing advanced affordability checks and staking limits for online slots.
Spain – Rate: 0.25%
*Source: Carlos III University*
According to the problem gambling severity index, an industry-standard gauge, Spain has one of the lowest gambling rates in Europe. That said, the research needs to be taken with a pinch of salt given that it was completed in 2020 by Spain’s Carlos III University. Data sets are very few and far between for Spain’s gambling industry, but no further study has been conducted to see if this has risen or fallen since.
Notably, the survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic did not result in any significant rise in online gaming, unlike many other markets such as the US. Meanwhile, the number of gamblers using retail venues such as casinos and bingo halls fell by as much as 50% from pre-pandemic levels during the crisis.
Garzon declared he would dedicate most of the Ministry’s budget to the issue
It is not clear if these figures have risen post-pandemic, but Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs is not holding back in regard to customer protection. In October, Alberto Garzon declared he would dedicate most of the Ministry’s budget to the issue. Mainly, he said he would use funds to target problematic and fraudulent behaviors and detect problem gambling.
Spain has already cracked down on gambling advertising on TV. In 2021, the government introduced legislation preventing gambling advertising outside of the hours of 1am to 5am to protect vulnerable groups.