Spelfriheten, a Swedish clinic that specialises in outpatient treatment for gambling addiction, has reported a ‘marked increase in its services since the pandemic’.
The Stockholm clinic, which provides free and confidential digital meetings for at-risk players and their relatives, has branded the first half of 2022 as its busiest period providing treatment services.
During the first half of the year, Spelfriheten registered 5,340 ‘help seekers’ – a marked 40% increase on corresponding 2021 figures of 3,797.
Providing a breakdown, during the first quarter of the year, Spelfriheten registered a total of 2,604 help seekers – up 48% on corresponding 2021 results of 1,748.
The busy Q1 period was followed by Spelfriheten registering a further 2736 participants, up 33% on 2021 figures of 2049 help seekers.
Of significance, the clinic stated that it had recorded a significant increase in women seeking treatment support during 2022, with June registering a peak of 394 women seeking its help services.
“Of the people who sought help from them this year, 60% are men and 40% women,” remarked Spelfriheten Marketing Manager Adam Kirstein Reuterswärd. “The target group that has increased the most with us in the past year is women aged 30 to 55.
“Many of them have started playing at online casinos during the pandemic and then got stuck. This is a concern as they are people who did not have any previous relationship with gambling.”
Spelfriheten’s findings have been forwarded to Spelberoendes Riksförbund, Sweden’s National Association for Problem Gambling.
Last year Spelberoendes Riksförbund estimated that approximately 352,000 Swedes were at risk of developing further gambling harms, as a total of 40,000 citizens registered themselves as problem gamblers.
Spelberoendes Riksförbund has recommended that the government apply a mandatory SEK 5,000 on player loss limit and further bonus restrictions on Swedish operators – safeguards applied during the COVID-19 pandemic.