Finland has some of the highest figures for gambling in Europe. Gambling can be seen in everyday environments in many different ways. For the majority of gamblers, their gambling is under control, but for some excessive gambling needs to different degrees of financial, social and health problems. Gambling problems affect hundreds of thousands of Finnish people either directly or indirectly. It is possible to tackle these problems through responsible gambling policy, other preventative methods, and provision of sufficient support and treatment services.

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The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) researches and actively monitors gambling problems. It’s tasks also include prevention of gambling problems and development of treatments. These tasks are assigned in section 52 of the Lotteries Act to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which has allocated them to THL. 

According to the Lotteries Act, the national gambling company Veikkaus Oy is to compensate the state for the costs incurred by monitoring, research and development. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health charges the company an amount equivalent to the total cost incurred to the ministry for these activities.

Gambling in Finland

According to the 2019 population survey on gambling, around 78 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 74 in mainland Finland had gambled during the past year. A total of 29% of the respondents had gambled once a week or more often. The most popular games were Lotto, scratch cards and slot machines.

Online gambling has increased. In 2019, 36% of the respondents had participated in online gambling during the last 12 months. However, a significant portion of gambling continues to take place outside the Internet.

Men gamble more than women: 75% of women had gambled during the previous year, while the figure for men was 82%. Gambling was most prevalent in the age group 25 to 44.

Gambling by minors has decreased as a result of raising the age threshold for gambling in 2010 and 2011, but the proportion of minors engaged in gambling did not change from 2015 to 2019. While 16% of minors had gambled in 2015, the corresponding proportion for 2019 was 31%. This is largely explained by playing scratch cards.

The majority of gambling profits are obtained from a small percentage of gamblers

Also in terms of the quantity of money spent, gambling in Finland is at a high level. According to Veikkaus gambling monopoly, Finns lost EUR 1.69 billion in 2019 to gambling organised through the state monopoly system. 

According to the ‘Gambling in Finland 2019’ population survey, around 2.5% of gamblers account for around half of gambling profits. This means that of the 2,917,000 people living in mainland Finland who participated in gambling , 72,000 people spent one half of the total expenditure of that year.

According to the Finnish gambling 2015 survey, the majority of gambling revenues are derived from gamblers who gamble on a weekly basis, from problem gamblers and from gamblers with poor socioeconomic status. In terms of net income, lower income earners spend more on gambling than high income earners. Correlations have also been found between gambling levels and educational background, unemployment, poor health and high use of intoxicants.   

Gambling causes harm to the individual, those close to them, and society as a whole

For many, their gambling is not harmful, but some gamblers find it hard to control the gambling. The problems range in seriousness from occasional late payments of bills to serious health, financial and relational problems and even criminal acts. Gambling problems spill over from the individual into their surrounding environment and into society as a whole.

According to the Finnish population gambling survey 2019, approximately 11% of the population, or 397,000 people, gambled at a risk level, i.e., they suffered from mild, individual, negative consequences from gambling. In addition, 3% of the population, or about 112,000 people, had a gambling problem. Of these, 1.4%, or about 52,000 people, had the most serious form of the problem, or a probable gambling dependency.  

Those who had played both online and in traditional brick and mortar shops were more likely than others to experience problems with gambling or risk-level gambling. When examining separately people who had played Veikkaus‘ traditional and online scratch cards, it was observed that gambling problem and gambling at a risk level  was more common among those who played online scratch cards  compared to those who played traditional scratch cards. Those who played slot machine games in Veikkaus Ltd’s arcades (Pelaamo, Feel Vegas, etc.) and on Veikkaus’ website were more likely to engage in problem gambling than those who played at gambling outlets (such as kiosks, petrol stations, cafes, etc.). 

More than a fifth, or about 21%, of the respondents to the Finnish Gambling 2019 survey said that gambling had been problematic for at least one person close to them. This means that around 790,000 persons are affected by someone close to them who has a gambling problem, and this proportion has increased.

Gambling includes slot machines, lotteries, raffle games (such as Keno), pools, betting, casino games and toto games.