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GAMBLING

Svenska Spel barred from expanding net poker

Sweden's state-owned gambling monopoly, Svenska Spel, has been forbidden from expanding its net-poker services - for the time being at least.

On Thursday, the Swedish government rejected Svenska Spel’s request to expand its existing licence to organize and distribute net-poker services.

Instead, the government asked Svenska Spel to devote more time to an internal, ongoing investigation into the existing licence, which is now due on June 30th 2008. Until the results are in from that investigation, the government will not allow the company to expand its net-poker services.

The government emphasized that Svenska Spel must consider the social effects of gambling, before profits.

Svenska Spel reaped a profit of nearly 1.4 billion kronor ($215 million) in the third quarter, as reported by The Local in October. Svenska Spel controls 35 percent of the Swedish market, as internet gambling including poker is growing rapildy. Overall profits for the first three quarters were more than 4 billion kronor, up 19 percent compared to 2006.

TT/Majsan Boström

GAMBLING

Gambling addicts ‘not getting enough help’

Swedish health authorities have criticised the lack of help available in Sweden for gambling addiction, with many municipalities providing no resources at all to deal with the problem.

Despite recent figures suggesting that nearly 200,000 people in Sweden have some kind of gambling problem the institute has slammed local authorities for not spending enough money dealing with the problem.

At least 50 municipalities provide no treatment at all for compulsive gamblers according to Sweden’s National Institute for Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet).

“It is very serious for those who are addicted to gambling and for those who live with problem gamblers, Marie Risbäck, coordinator of problem gambling issues at the Institute, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Gambling problems are especially prevalent among young men, where it is estimated that one in ten between the ages of 18-24 have issues to some degree with over 17 billion kronor ($2.5 billion) wasted just on Svenska Spel, ATG and other ostensibly Swedish betting operations.

Three years ago a survey showed that some 40 municipalities provided no help to those with gambling problems, and the situation has just got worse since, with even fewer resources being made available.

The Public Health Institute believes that the government on a national and local level is not taking responsibility for doing anything about it.

It has therefore called for a state run action plan for the prevention of problem gambling, clearer rules on betting advertising, and an increase in care and treatment to all those in need.

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