Gambling behaviour and gambling problems in Norway 2008

Abstract

Background: The previous Norwegian population-based survey of gambling behaviour and gambling problems was conducted early in 2007. At that time, slot machines were easily accessible in public places such as shopping centres, groceries, kiosks and cafés, and comprised approximately 61% of the gambling market. The 2007 study showed that the major proportion of people with gambling problems played the slot machine. A new law was effectuated which banned all slot machines from the market July 1st 2007. New gaming terminals will be introduced during the autumn of 2008. The Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority initiated a new population-based survey with data collection during the summer of 2008. Materials and methods: A random population sample (N=10 000) in the age group 16-74 years received the study questionnaire by post. The questionnaire included items on gambling behaviour and the instrument NODS for assessment of gambling problems. Results: The response rate was 35%. In the total sample, 88% reported to ever have played monetary games (2007: 88%). Overall, 77% reported to have played monetary games during the last 12 months (2007: 70%). The prevalence of last-year problematic gambling was 0.8% (2007: 0.7%), indicating that 29 200 people have present gambling problems in Norway. The average age at first gambling was lower among problematic gamblers than in the total sample. Problematic gamblers participated in more games than non-problematic gamblers and more often reported Internet gambling from foreign operators as the most important form of gambling (40% and 2%, respectively). Most problematic gamblers (70%) reported to have played the slot machine the year prior to the slot machine ban. In the total sample, 1.5% of respondents reported that a close family member had had a gambling problem during the previous year. Conclusion: We found no change in the proportion of people with gambling problems in 2008 compared to 2007, despite the fact that all slot machines were removed from the market. Most problematic gamblers in the current study were young men who had played the slot machine the year prior to the ban, and a large proportion reported that Internet gambling was their most important form of gambling.

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