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Gustav Sundgren, Riksförbundet Spelkontroll

As a 21 year-old, Gustav Sundgren found himself in the risk zone with his poker playing. He is now studying the psychology programme at Karolinska Institute and has founded Riksförbundet Spelkontroll – the first national non-profit organisation in Europe focused on gambling addiction among 16 to 30 year-olds.

Why did you start Riksförbundet Spelkontroll?

“We were a group of people who had long realised the need for initiatives to combat young people’s gaming problems. Focused initiatives are important since young people are in a special situation. This applies to everything from pace of life and unemployment to a higher percentage of relapses and the ability to take on board new technology. It is important to catch individuals in this category that we know are particularly exposed. We want to increase awareness of gambling addiction and work with a preventive approach.”

What are the success factors when working with young people?

“It is crucial to base efforts on youth trends, cultures and attitudes. Our basic outlook is that digitisation, new technology and new attractive gaming forms are positive. Gaming can be both entertaining and stimulating. Pointing a finger does not open the door to a positive ­dialogue with young people, and dialogue is one of our main aims. Anyone who wants to participate in dialogues about young people’s gaming is ­welcome, irrespective of their viewpoint.”

How would you describe your dialogue with Svenska Spel?

“Svenska Spel has a lot of focus on networks, collaboration and other forms of exchange. In the summer, we presented a wish to participate in their functions and contribute our knowledge about young people’s gaming. Shortly thereafter, we received an invitation to take part in the Gaming Academy. Svenska Spel takes us seriously and wants to contribute to promoting our activities.”

What is your current focus at the national association?

“We are working with drawing up a training course to create a network of speakers, ambassadors and volunteers. We want to create meeting places and carry out various preventive initiatives to counter young people’s gaming. Moving forward, we will launch a campaign called Spela RISKfyllt (Play RISKily), where RISK stands for the values Roliga (entertaining), Insiktsfullhet (insightful), Stabilitet (stable) and Kontroll (controlled), which should permeate gaming. The focus is on balance and well-being. For those who are having difficulties with gaming, we will offer separate support and help.”