Finland: Prevalence of at-risk gambling has decreased – gambling problems still as common as before
According to a study conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the prevalence of “at-risk gambling” which causes individual mild harms has decreased in Finland. The 2019 study indicated that 11 per cent of the Finnish population had engaged in at-risk level gambling in the past 12 months. In the previous study, conducted in 2015, the proportion of at-risk gamblers was 15 per cent. The prevalence of at-risk gambling has decreased in both men and women.
At-risk gambling refers to gambling which causes some individual harms and often precedes the development of problem gambling. According to the 2019 study, three per cent of the Finnish population, meaning approximately 112,000 people, had experienced gambling problems. The proportion of such individuals has remained the same since 2007.
According to the study, 1.4 per cent of Finns – around 52,000 people – suffered in 2019 from probable pathological gambling, which is the most severe form of problematic gambling.
In contrast, the study indicates that gambling without indentified problems has increased. The number of gamblers remained the same between 2015 and 2019, but changes took place in the frequency of gambling: the proportion of Finns who gambled less often than once a month increased, whereas the proportion of those gambling more often than this decreased.
The past-year prevalence of gambling at least one game type among the respondents was 78.4 per cent.
Online gambling has become more common
In 2019, one third of the respondents (36.3 %) had been gambling online. The proportion of online gamblers increased by 12.7 percentage points from 2015.
At the same time, the proportion of those who gambled games offered by foreign operators increased from 3.3 to 5.4 per cent. Almost all gamblers (98.1 %) who had gambled games offered by an operator other than Veikkaus Oy had also gambled Veikkaus Oy’s games.
In 2019, 2.5 per cent of the gamblers accounted for one half of the total gambling expenditure. This means that of the 2,917,000 people living in mainland Finland who participated in gambling in 2019, 72,000 people spent one half of the total expenditure of that year. Veikkaus Oy’s share of the online gambling expenditure was 83.6 per cent, while the other game operators accounted for 16.4 per cent.
“Only a relatively few people gamble games offered by operators other than Veikkaus, when compared to the number of those gambling Veikkaus games. Then again, there is big money involved in foreign online games. Therefore, it is now important to monitor how the closing of the Finnish slot machines due to the coronavirus epidemic affects online gambling”, says THL Senior Researcher Anne Salonen.
One in five Finns has someone with problematic gambling in their immediate social circle
Just over one fifth (21.1 %) of the respondents reported that at least one person in their immediate social circle had demonstrated problematic gambling. This means that around 790,000 persons are affected by someone close to them having a gambling problem, and this proportion has increased.
According to Salonen, the result may also indicate that Finns have become more aware of gambling problems, and the issue is now discussed more openly and boldly than before.
Since 2007, THL has been monitoring gambling, the prevalence of gambling problems, and the attitudes and opinions related to gambling by carrying out a population survey every four years among Finnish people aged from 15 to 74. In 2019, the study was participated in by 3994 Finns. Statistics Finland conducted the interviews over the telephone. The study was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, and commissioned and financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (section 52 of the Lotteries Act).
THL publishes the Finnish Gambling 2019 results in stages; the first step now is to publish the main results concerning gambling and gambling problems. The results concerning the attitudes and opinions related to gambling will be published later this year.