Finland’s National Health Institute Calls for Gambling Machines Crackdown

The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos – THL) recommended that gambling machines at supermarkets across the country be removed in a bid for the country to reduce gambling addiction rates, local news outlet Yle has reported.

The research institute referred to neighboring Norway where the controversial machines were banned a decade ago and the country has seen a decrease in the number of people with problem gambling behavior.

The gaming devices can be found in practically every supermarket across Finland. They are operated by gambling operator Veikkaus, the state-run entity that holds the monopoly over the provision of all types of legal gaming and betting activities in the Scandinavian country.

Local media has reported that Veikkaus has actually voiced opposition to a ban on the gaming machines or on restrictions where it can install them.

Other Proposed Measures

Aside from the removal of gaming machines from supermarkets, THL also proposed the introduction of measures that would allow gambling customers themselves set a limit on the money they can wager on the controversial devices. The limits could be valid for a certain period of time and renewed by players, if they find that necessary. The research institute further pointed out that gaming machines should be banned from places where alcoholic beverages are served.

As reported by Yle, THL submitted its proposals to Finland’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko. The research organization also presented important problem gambling statistics to the official.

According to THL, around 120,000 residents of the country have problem gambling behavior. In addition, the proportion of people suffering from gambling addiction or milder gambling issues increased to 15% in 2015 from 11% in 2011.

Profiling the likely customers with problem gambling behavior, THL said that young adults, people from poorer areas, and ones with previous problem gambling history were among the demographic groups at greatest risk.

Finland’s Preference for State-Run Gambling Services

The results from a study commissioned by Yle showed that 66% of all participants approved the current gambling regulatory regime in the country. As mentioned above, gambling services are only provided by Veikkaus.

There have been discussions over the potential re-regulation of Finland’s gambling industry in a manner that would allow international operators to apply for licenses from local regulators and target local players in a regulated environment. However, lawmakers have decided that a monopoly system would be a much better approach to the regulation of the industry in the country, despite pressure from the European Union.

EU regulators have been urging member states to modernize their gambling regulatory frameworks in a manner that complies with union-wide treaties and regulations for the provision of services. Earlier this year, Sweden announced that it would re-regulate its gambling laws and would open its market for international operations. The country’s new regulatory framework is expected to come into effect in 2019.

Related News

CasinoNewsDaily is a media focused on providing daily news from the casino industry as well as in-depth gaming guides. Our guides cover roulette, blackjack, slots and video poker.
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on Reddit