Percentage Of Finnish Gamblers Declines As Problem Gambling Rate Increases

February 28, 2024
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The number of gamblers in Finland has declined by 8 percent since 2019, while the percentage of at-risk or problem gamblers has increased by 1.2 percent during the same period.
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The number of gamblers in Finland has declined by 8 percent since 2019, while the percentage of at-risk or problem gamblers has increased by 1.2 percent during the same period.

Tanja Grönroos, a researcher at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), said the findings reflect the need for “stronger measures” to reduce gambling-related harms.

“The reform of the gambling system included in the government program to move from an exclusive system to a licence system should be carefully prepared. The reform offers an opportunity, for example, to limit the marketing of gambling games and set mandatory comprehensive spending limits for players,” Grönroos said.

Findings from THL’s latest gambling demographic survey were taken from 5,977 participants aged 15–74 years-old living in mainland Finland and published on February 27.

It found that 4.2 percent of respondents displayed moderate at-risk or problem gambling behaviour, or approximately 151,000 people at the population level.

This increase in the problem gambling rate occurred alongside a large decrease in the number of gamblers, with only 70 percent of respondents saying that they had gambled in the past 12 months compared with 78 percent in 2019.

Anne Salonen, the research manager at THL, said: “Even though gambling has decreased, preliminary results clearly show that more serious problems have increased.”

“In the system change, it is now necessary to strengthen measures that limit access, which will reduce the playing of gambling games known to be the most harmful. This applies to gambling offered in the licence system, but also to gambling outside the system,” Salonen said.

Antti Koivula, a lawyer with Finland-based Legal Gaming, said the THL’s data shows that “an increasing number of gambling problems stem from unregulated gambling.”

“This underscores the urgency of the current gambling system reform, as effective prevention of gambling problems requires bringing all gambling under regulation. The focus must be on achieving a high channelisation rate, which necessitates balanced legislation. Otherwise, nothing changes,” Koivula.

The survey also found that 7 percent of the respondents had gambled at least once online with an operator that was not Veikkaus in 2023.

THL will publish its more comprehensive “Finns' gambling statistical report” in April 2024.

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior announced on October 24 that it had begun a formal project to define the terms of its new gambling legislation.

The official term of the project ends on December 31, 2025, but officials say they intend to present the government’s plan for new gambling legislation to parliament in Spring 2025.

The ministry had previously targeted January 2026 as the market launch date, but several Finnish stakeholders fear that the start of licensing could be delayed following broader political turmoil in Finland.

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