Population study: Attitudes towards gambling have become more negative in younger, more positive in older age groups

Publication date 16.4.2024 2.00 | Published in English on 16.4.2024 at 14.16
Press release

Finns had primarily negative attitudes towards gambling. According to a population study conducted in 2023, attitudes towards gambling have become more negative in younger age groups, while becoming more positive in older age groups. The previous study was carried out in 2019.

In older age groups, i.e. those aged 45–59 and 60–74, attitudes became slightly more positive compared to both 2019 and 2011. Meanwhile, in younger age groups, the attitudes became more negative in both the shorter and the longer term.

Attitudes towards gambling were measured with several individual statements. In 2023, the majority (90%) of the respondents felt that gambling should not be encouraged, and the 61 per cent of the felt that there were too many opportunities for gambling. However, 58 per cent of the respondents felt that people had the right to gamble whenever they wanted. One in five respondents (20%) believed that, overall, gambling benefits society.

Individual statements measuring attitudes towards gambling, proportions of respondents aged 15–74 in 2023 (%).

“The attitudes towards gambling and several individual questions on the respondents’ opinions reflect a change in attitudes that is in line with the changes that have occurred in gambling. The clearest changes in the decline in gambling and a more critical attitude towards gambling were observed in young adults”, says Anne Salonen, Research Manager at THL. 

“The opinions expressed by the respondents also revealed that there was a partial opposite trend in the views of women, men and people of different ages”, Salonen continues. The respondents’ views were also divided on individual questions concerning their opinions.

Gambling is increasingly uncommon and more occasional

In 2023, 70 per cent of people aged 15–74 in mainland Finland had gambled in the past 12 months. At the population level, this comprises around 2.5 million people. Gambling was most common among men and those aged 45–59. 

The number of people engaging in gambling decreased from 2019 to 2023.

Gambling has become more occasional. Finns typically gamble less often than once a month. Until 2015, Finns most commonly gambled once per week. 

The number of people engaging in several different game types also decreased. On the other hand, the amounts of money spent on gambling did not change.

Online gambling is very common in Finland. Up to 44 per cent engaged in online gambling in 2023. 

Increase in gambling problems among men

The gambling of four per cent of Finns was at a moderate-risk or problem gambling level in 2023. The share of these respondents increased compared to 2019 and 2011.

The result means that approximately 151,000 people in mainland Finland have a gambling problem that is causing them to experience either individual or significant harm and symptoms of addiction. 

Gambling problems were the most common among men and young adults. 

“A startling finding is that there has been no decline in gambling problems among young adults and they have become even more common among men despite an overall reduction in gambling”, says Researcher Tanja Grönroos from THL.

“This may be explained by factors such as gambling habits. Men and young adults favour fast-paced games, which are known to be harmful, and online games, including ones not provided by the gambling monopoly”, Grönroos says.

No changes in playing offshore online games

Seven per cent of Finns engaged in offshore (i.e. other than Veikkaus Oy) online gambling (approximately 251,000 people at the population level). This share included those who played the online games of Paf (Ålands Penningautomatförening) and foreign game providers. Playing online games not provided by the monopoly operator Veikkaus  was the most common among men (12%) and 18–29-year-olds (15%).

At the whole population level, there was no change in offshore online gambling compared to 2019. However, an exception was found in the group of 45–59-year-olds, where there was an increase in offshore gambling.

A more detailed examination showed that although there was no change in the amount of foreign online gambling in 2023 compared to 2019, there has been an increase in playing these in the longer term. Playing Paf’s online games has become more common since 2019.

Support for the gambling monopoly increased among women and decreased among men

In 2023, 74 per cent of the respondents felt that the gambling monopoly provides a good way to limit the negative effects of gambling. Support for the monopoly as a means of preventing harm has increased in the short and long term. 
A clearly larger share of women (82%) than men (65%) felt that the monopoly was a good way to limit the negative effects of gambling. Support for the monopoly has increased among women and decreased among men.
In particular, the youngest and oldest age groups felt that the monopoly was a good way to limit the negative effects of gambling. 

Finnish Gambling 2023 population study

The currently published results are based on the Finnish Gambling population study, which has been carried out every four years since 2007. 
In total, 5,977 people aged 15–74 years living in mainland Finland participated in the 2023 study. The study is the most important source of information on gambling among the population in Finland. 
In 2023, the study data were collected using an online and postal survey, in addition to which some of the data were collected through telephone interviews.

Further information

Finnish Gambling 2023 statistical report (in Finnish)
Finnish Gambling study (in Finnish)
News 27 February 2024 (in Finnish): Preliminary data on Finnish Gambling: Gambling problems have increased even though fewer people engage in gambling.

Anne Salonen
Research Manager 
Tel. +358 29 524 8125 
Tanja Grönroos
Tel. +358 29 524 8465 

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