Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 759–774 | Cite as

Gambling in the Mist of Economic Crisis: Results From Three National Prevalence Studies From Iceland

  • Daniel Thor Olason
  • Tobias Hayer
  • Tim Brosowski
  • Gerhard Meyer
Original Paper


In October 2008 all three major banks in Iceland went bankrupt with serious consequences for Icelandic society. The national currency lost more than half of its value and there was a sharp increase in household debts and prices for domestic goods. Very little is known about the potential effects of economic recessions on gambling participation and problem gambling. This study reports on the results of three national prevalence studies conducted before and after the economic collapse in Iceland. The same methodology and measures were used in all three studies to ensure their comparability and the studies included in total N = 8.249 participants. There was an increase in past year gambling participation which extended across most gambling types. Only participation on EGMs declined significantly after the economic collapse. Past year prevalence of problematic gambling increased but further examination revealed that this increase is most probably explained by an increase in card and internet gambling among young men. Moreover, those who experienced financial difficulties due to the economic recession were 52 % more likely to have bought a lottery ticket during the recession compared to those who were not affected financially. Overall, the results indicate that serious national economic recessions have differential effects on gambling behavior.


Economic recession Gambling Problem gambling Prevalence 



This research project received funding from the University Lottery, Rannis-The Icelandic Centre for Research and the Ministry of the Interior. The authors have full responsibility for all parts of the data collection, examination of the data and full control over the decision on publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Thor Olason
    • 1
  • Tobias Hayer
    • 2
  • Tim Brosowski
    • 2
  • Gerhard Meyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology and Cognition ResearchUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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