NADRA 2022: Q&A with keynote speaker Jenny Cisneros Örnberg
25 apr 2022
Jenny Cisneros Örnberg, associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University, is one of the keynote speakers at the Nordic Alcohol and Drug Researchers’ Assembly (NADRA) in Mariehamn, Finland 6–8 September 2022.
Jenny Cisneros Örnberg, Gambling policy research is the theme of your presentation at NADRA 2022. Tell us about a research project that you recently have taken part in within this field?
As the deputy head of the department of Public Health Sciences my time for research is quite limited, but when I do I mainly work on research regarding policy development and policy impact for the research project REGAPS (Responding to and Reducing Gambling Problems Studies) which I also lead. Within REGAPS we have several work packages and within one of them there is a sub category focusing on gambling-related crimes.
In a recently published article called Criminogenic problem gambling: a study of verdicts by Swedish courts we concluded that those convicted for gambling related crimes were older, and to a greater extent female and first-time offenders, compared to national statistics on crimes in general. This suggests that in Sweden, middle-aged women are a high-risk group for severe gambling problems and should be monitored particularly closely by gambling companies.
The Swedish gambling monopoly was abolished in 2019. What is your take on this major reform?
I don’t see it as an abolishment of the gambling monopoly, but rather as a re-regulation of the Swedish gambling market. Usually when a monopoly is opened up there is a de-regulation at play, but not necessarily in this case. Some parts of the Swedish gambling market, casinos and lotteries, are still subject to a national monopoly. At the same time a competitive part of the gambling market, with online betting and online casinos, has been opened up for licensed companies.
In my opinion the new law has brought increased control. Before the reform there was a lot of unlicensed gambling companies attracting the Swedish market. With the new law these companies are able to obtain licenses, which also makes them obliged to abide by certain rules in order to increase consumer protection.
The alternative would have been for the Swedish government to try to block all non-state owned gambling online, which does not seem realistic. Of course there are still unlicensed companies attracting the Swedish consumers, but the problem has decreased significantly since 2019. The system is not perfect though, there are still things that could be improved.
The online gambling market is global today. Is it still possible to control gambling on a national level?
In the internet era it is very hard to control online gambling on a national level, at least in a democracy. We have a global market, and many of the gambling companies operate in multiple countries. With increased online gambling it is harder to control consumer behaviour.
On the other hand, most countries at least within the EU seem to agree that gambling should be subject to national legislation, and not controlled at the EU-level. With that said I do believe we are seeing a slow harmonisation of gambling legislation globally. Countries tend to look at what their neighbours are doing, and adjust accordingly. The Swedish re-regulation could be seen as part of this trend.
Which burning research questions still remain unanswered within the field of gambling policy research?
I am a political scientist at heart. I am interested in questions regarding national and international regulation, and what consequences different stakeholders’ actions have on the market and the society as a whole.
For a long time the main focus within the gambling research field has been on the individual experiencing problems with gambling, but recently there has been an increased multidisciplinary and also a more critical focus. I would like to see an even stronger shift of focus from the individual to the society as a whole. I think we need more research on gambling from a sociological, cultural and historical point of view.
Text: Sebastian Dahlström
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