Finland has a worsening gambling problem


Finland has been trying to clean up the country’s gambling industry, introducing new regulations to help oversee gambling activities. According to a recent survey, though, those efforts may not be enough and lawmakers, as well as gambling operators, need to get more involved in order to protect Finnish gamblers.

finland-has-worsening-gambling-problemOver the past couple of years, gambling addiction and problem gambling in Finland has continued to rise, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The ministry had sought to determine how merging the three state-run gambling operators into one entity had impacted gambling and gamblers. The study was ultimately conducted by the Institute for Health and Welfare in conjunction with Helsinki University, Statistic Finland and Peliklinikka, a problem gambling prevention organization.

The survey saw participation from around 2,600 Finnish citizens aged 18 and older. Yle, a Finnish media outlet, points out that problem gambling among males has declined over the past several years, but gambling addiction and problem gambling has become more severe.

In 2017, Veikkaus was running the country’s national lottery. It merged with gaming machine operator Ray and horse betting operator Fintoto that year, ostensibly to provide better oversight of gambling activity in Finland and to reduce the instances of excessive gambling.

Social scientist Matilda Hellman told Yle, “It was definitely optimistic to think that something would have changed. Gambling has the same cultural and social functions for Finnish residents.” She added that government policies play a key role in gambling oversight and stated, “The fusion of Fintoto, Ray and Veikkaus hasn’t particularly helped to regulate the sector.”

Around 27% of those that participated in the survey indicated that Veikkaus, which now controls all three of gambling entities, is marketing its services with too many ads. In a similar survey conducted in 2018, that amount was only around 17%. In addition, 16% acknowledged that the ads compelled them to gamble more, while 65% of the respondents indicated that the ads have no impact on whether or not they gamble.

The latest initiative to reduce gambling in the country began through a public campaign. Last week, a group of citizens began to seek the removal of video gambling machines from gas stations and grocery stores and their efforts have already found 7,400 signatures supporting the measure.