Sweden releases online poker prevalence study

The Swedish National Institute of Public Health has published the details of its one-year study into the effects of online poker that classed 27 % of the country’s Internet poker players as potential problem gamblers.

The study of 16,500 adults was carried out last year on the orders of the Swedish government to assess the social impact of Svenska Spel’s venture into online poker. It found that between 126,000 and 157,000 adults had played online poker on a monthly basis at Svenska Spel during 2006 with males outnumbering females ten to one.

While the study warned that 27 percent of online poker players could develop problems, a figure that is in stark contrast to the non-poker online players number of 2.1 percent, the Institute’s classification of what constituted problem gambling has been criticised. At-risk gamblers were defined as anyone who had twice over the past year attempted to reduce their level of gambling, felt impatient at not being able to gamble or prevaricated about how much they gambled.

Consequently, a more detailed study is planned for 2008 with a stronger focus on how problem gambling is classified. The survey also revealed that the average age of Svenska Spel online players was 25 with most being under 40.

A majority of those questioned lived with their parents, in a dorm or a collective house and tended to be self-employed or students. Worryingly, the study also found indications that alcohol consumption by online poker players was above the national average.