Report: gambling reforms did little to help addicts

While the number of men who gamble has dropped in recent years, there's a growing number of gambling addicts in total.

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File picture of slot machine / Credit: iStock

A move to consolidate Finland’s three state-run gambling businesses into just one enterprise has done little to help people with an addiction to placing bets.

That’s the findings of a new study from the National Institute of Health and Wellness (THL) which finds that although fewer men are gambling, there’s a growing number of people with serious gambling problems.

Back in 2017, Fintoto, the horse betting company; slot machine and casino enterprise RAY and national lottery organiser Veikkaus were merged together into one monopoly under the Veikkaus brand.

The monopoly was given the green light by the EU, and at the time Veikkaus promised to do more to tackle gambling addiction.

However, the new THL study shows that goal has not been achieved.

“The results [of the study] suggest that the problems with serious addicts piled up even more and the potential vicious circle of problems became even worse” says Anne Salonen, Senior Researcher at THL.

THL came to the conclusion that a smaller group of players is spending as much money as before on betting. In 2018, Finns were some of the most passionate gamblers in Europe, spending €1.8 billion on bets with Veikkaus.

Despite the growing number of gambling addicts, Veikkaus asked to increase the prize money available to punters.

The reason, they said, is because foreign companies have been getting a foot in the door of Finland’s gambling market through online gaming, and so Veikkaus is trying to come up with new strategies to keep players loyal.

One of those strategies it boosting the cash to be won by playing machines or online games.