Covid-19 has had a severe impact on the lives of the people in most countries of the world, including Scandinavia. In addition to the physical harm caused by this virus on the health of the individuals, it has also affected the mental health of the people in many different ways. Gambling, which is a one of the favorite pastime in many Scandinavian nations, has increased during this pandemic. Studies on the impacts of Covid-19 are still being conducted and most of them suggest that addictive behaviors have registered a growth during the last 6 months.
Problem gambling is a phenomenon that authorities in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, have been grappling with in recent past. Psychologists regard gambling as a potentially addictive behavior with nearly 1-5% of all the people showing signs of addiction across the globe. While it is true that the world has not seen anything like Covid-19 in the recent past, financial crises like the one in the US in 2008 have been linked with increased gambling behavior. In Greece and Iceland, large numbers of individuals started to take part in gambling as a way to forget about their financial worries.
Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Norwegians were seen gambling in physical and online casinos. It is the favorite pastime for many Norwegians. Sports betting is another activity in which Norwegians participated in large numbers. As Norway got hit with the novel corona virus, the government resorted to lockdowns and imposed movement restrictions on citizens. Brick and mortar casinos were shut down and people were confined to their homes for a long time period.
Thankfully, Norwegian government came up with stimulus and relief packages for businesses and households to limit the economic losses caused by Covid-19. This means that despite long shutdowns, common people can continue with the same standards of living that they were used to before the onset of this pandemic. It is therefore not as bad a situation economically as it appeared during the outbreak of novel corona virus. In fact, Norwegians continued with their gambling during the pandemic like before. Government feared gambling might become problematical because of long period of confinement in homes. This fear was justified as it was believed that ban on all kinds of organized sporting activities would turn those involved with sports betting to gambling. It is a fact that there was not a match of ice hockey, hockey, basketball, and football was held for several months on account of Covid-19.
There were hundreds of thousands of sports fans who thought that they need to explore the world of online gambling to entertain themselves during the lockdown. With a blanket ban on field games, these fans found their entertainment in online casinos. Many people turned to popular gaming sites like norskcasinohex.com, which introduced many guides on how to play games like poker, roulette and bingo for amateurs. The site also features online casinos that offer lucrative welcome bonuses to new members. Many Norwegians that are new to the world of online gambling discovered a wide variety of casino games that were on offer from various casinos to help them entertain.
In a study conducted on Sweden on the impact of Covid-19 on the online gambling behavior of the people, it was found that only 4% of the participants said that their time spent on online gambling has increased. The majority of such people were those who found a lot of free time because of a blanket ban on organized sporting activities. Studies on the possible impact of Covid-19 on the behavior of gamblers in Sweden are still underway. Authorities in Sweden are therefore not speaking openly on the subject. They have said that results of these studies will be known only by the end of 2020 or in the first half of 2021.
Spelinspektionen, which is the gaming regulator in Sweden, has said that ill effects of Covid-19 on the mental health of the people, especially addictive behaviors like online gambling are yet to show themselves. The main reason why Spelinspektionen is so cautious is because it doesn’t want to be blamed for speaking too early.
Similar sentiment has been echoed by the National Association of Gambling Addicts. It says that anything about problem gambling and correlation with Covid-19 can be said in a more definitive manner only in the first half of 2021 when more studies have been conducted on the subject. However, a recent study done by a professor of Lund University has suggested a higher amount of money being put at stake by gamblers after the onset of Covid-19.
As far as Denmark is concerned online gambling seems to have decreased during lockdown period. This has been found by Spillemyndigheden, the national gaming authority of the country. Authority compared the data of 9 March to 3 May 2020 with the same period last year and found that gaming rates this year have declined. This was the time period when whole of Denmark was under lockdown with lots of restrictions on businesses and movement of the people. Land based casinos were hit hard as they lost massive revenue on account of shutdown. However, there was no impact on the earnings of online casinos during lockdown. There was a steep decline in online sports betting activities with a corresponding 2% increase in online casino deposits in Denmark.
One thing that has not gone unnoticed by the experts is increased amount of illegal activity in online gambling. Even though financial frauds were a part and parcel of this industry for a very long time, scammers have tried to make the most of the circumstantial vulnerabilities. Covid-19 has given an impetus to the activities of these scammers in Europe and America, raising alarm bells in the iGaming community. These authorities are issuing new regulations to tighten the noose around vendors. The main objective of these authorities is to protect the financial interests of the customers during the lockdown and even afterwards.
All in all, according to all these studies, online gambling has seen a sudden spike in the Scandinavian countries during the pandemic, mostly because sports betters turned online gambling to entertain themselves while sitting at home during the lockdown.