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Finland Problem Gambling on the Rise despite Fall in Player Numbers

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The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported that Finland is experiencing a rise in problem gambling despite a reduction in the number of gamblers. In a survey conducted by the agency, 4.2 percent of respondents identified as either experiencing problem gambling or being "at-risk" gamblers, which equates to over 150,000 individuals in Finland.

The THL considers the recent figures to be highly significant because similar surveys in recent years indicated that approximately three percent of the population faced significant gambling issues. Nevertheless, the percentage of individuals in Finland engaging in regular gambling dropped from 78 percent in 2019 to 70 percent in the past year.

The study also revealed a notable gender difference in problem gambling, with men more prone to exhibiting compulsive gambling behaviors than women. About 6.6 percent of men admitted to gambling at a level they deemed significantly problematic, whereas the corresponding figure for women was 1.8 percent.

Additionally, the study found that lottery games and slot machines, operated by the state gaming monopoly Veikkaus, remained the most popular forms of gambling. According to the THL, the most detrimental and particularly addictive gaming forms have common characteristics like high speed, interactivity, and frequent rewards. Online lottery games, slot machines, and online betting belong to this category.

Veikkaus Problem Gambling Measures

In 2019, Veikkaus faced allegations of facilitating and potentially encouraging problem gambling and revealed intentions to withdraw thousands of its slot machines nationwide and implement measures to tackle the issue. Veikkaus is a gambling monopoly owned by the Finnish government. The operator is solely responsible for organizing and managing various forms of gambling, including lottery games, sports betting, and slot machines in Finland.

In 2020, the operator announced that it would be implementing compulsory identity verification at land-based slot machines. In 2021, the Finnish gambling monopoly released data showing that problem gambling has fallen to an all-time low in the country since it introduced loss limits on its slot machines.

Last year, Veikkaus introduced mandatory Identification (ID) checks for any player wishing to purchase lottery scratch card games. Players can authenticate their ID using a Drivers License, Personal ID card, and a Veikkaus ID card.

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