Date: 29.02.2024

by Mateusz Mazur

Problem Gambling on the Rise in Finland Despite Fewer Gamblers

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Finland has raised concerns over the increasing prevalence of problem gambling, despite a noticeable decline in the overall gambling population.

Veikkaus Adapts to New Finnish Gambling System with Organizational Changes

According to a recent THL survey, 4.2 percent of respondents, equating to over 150,000 individuals, admitted to suffering from problem gambling or being at risk, marking a significant rise from previous years’ figures.

Decline in Gambling Participation

Interestingly, the survey also highlighted a decrease in regular gambling activities among Finns, with participation dropping from 78 percent in 2019 to 70 percent in the past year. This decline contrasts with the growing issue of problem gambling, suggesting that while fewer people are gambling, those who do are at a higher risk of developing gambling-related problems.

The survey revealed a stark gender disparity in problem gambling rates, with men being substantially more likely to engage in problematic gambling behaviors. Approximately 6.6 percent of male respondents identified their gambling habits as seriously problematic, compared to only 1.8 percent of female participants.

Popular Forms of Gambling and Their Risks

State gaming monopoly Veikkaus’ lottery games and slot machines remain the most favored gambling options among Finns. The THL pointed out that the most harmful and addictive gambling forms share characteristics such as fast pace, interactivity, and frequent rewards, notably online lottery games, slot machines, and online betting.

In response to mounting criticism over its role in facilitating problem gambling, Veikkaus announced initiatives in 2019 to address the issue, including the removal of thousands of slot machines nationwide. Further, in 2022, Veikkaus expressed readiness to relinquish its monopoly status in favor of a licensing system, reflecting a significant shift in Finland’s approach to gambling regulation.

An informal survey by Yle revealed a broad consensus among Finnish parliamentary parties in favor of dismantling the state-operated gaming entity, indicating a potential overhaul of the nation’s gambling regulatory framework.

Our Comment on the Article

The findings from the THL survey underscore a concerning trend in Finland’s gambling landscape, where the incidence of problem gambling is escalating despite a reduction in overall gambling participation. This paradox highlights the need for more targeted interventions and support systems for those at risk.

Veikkaus’ initiatives and the potential policy shift towards a licensing model represent crucial steps toward mitigating gambling-related harm and fostering a more responsible and sustainable gambling environment in Finland. As the country navigates these changes, the focus must remain on protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring the ethical and controlled provision of gambling services.