According to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCA), gambling problems should be tackled more severely, but the current system makes it very difficult.
According to Lasse Pöyry, an economist at KKV's impact assessment unit, the current Finnish gaming market does not provide the best possible fines for tackling gambling problems, as Veikkaus' monopoly is leaking.
According to Pöyry, gambling problems can be protected with two approaches: either Veikkaus 'monopoly in the gambling market should be abandoned and a free licensing system should be introduced, or Veikkaus' monopoly should be made stronger.
The licensing system would allow foreign online casino companies to enter Finland, but would bind them to the terms of the licensing system, as is the case in Sweden and Denmark. Finland could, for example, require a common ban system in the licensing system, which would give the gambling addict a block to every service provider covered by the licensing system.
Nowadays, it is problematic to get a blockade on Veikkaus' gambling games, but in the case of foreign online casinos, a blockade must be acquired for each individual. According to Pöyry, this makes it difficult for a gambler to cope with his addiction.
The licensing system would also allow authorities to better control the number of players and how much money goes to different service providers. At present, precise data on the number of players in foreign online casinos are not available, and the only statistics are from a THL survey.
According to it, 87.5 per cent of players' consumption came from Veikkaus' games, and Veikkaus' share of online games was 83.6 per cent.
As many as 77.4 per cent of the respondents to the survey, as well as the consumption of non-Veikkaus gamers, were also dominated by domestic monopoly games.
On the other hand, according to the study, the number of problem players was significantly higher in individuals who also played non-Veikkaus monopoly games.
According to Pöyry, another option to help gamblers would be to strengthen Veikkaus' monopoly position. In practice, this would mean, among other things, banning online casinos registered in Malta in Finland.
- The means could be, for example, money transfer restrictions or geoblocking, Pöyry reflects.
He emphasizes that KKV will not comment on which of the options would be better. However, according to Pöyry, the current mixed model does not work.
- This kind of intermediate model is very challenging from the point of view of game problem prevention.
Online gaming did not grow as expected with the Corona. On the other hand, foreign online casinos do not tell you how many Finnish customers they have.
Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuvat
In a previous story in Taloussanomat, Minna Backman, CFO of the Guarantee Foundation, said that applications for gambling problems for debt restructuring almost doubled in January-July this year from a year ago.
Read more: The Guarantee Foundation tells how serious young people's gambling problems were during the Korona period
According to Backmann, the reason is the Korona time and, among other things, the fact that young people enjoy online casinos instead of traditional slot machines. The vending machines were closed for a long time due to the corona and still many of them remain closed.
- It is difficult to say whether the closure of slot machines increased online gaming or whether the increase is due to being at home anyway. Still, I have no doubt that the corona epidemic would have exacerbated the gambling problem for some, but there may be several reasons. Concerns about the growth of indebtedness and dependence are right, KKV's Pöyry reflects.
According to Pöyry, gambling addiction is partly more cruel than many other addictions. Especially when playing online, money can be spent very imperceptibly. The aim is to make up for the losses incurred with quick waves, which are played in the hope of winning.
- Online gambling is fast-cycling. With easy access to consumer credit, a young player can ruin their entire future outlook in just an hour.
Interest remains to be paid on the loans, which are again patched up with new quick levers, which are again lost. According to Pöyry, this results in a person becoming unreasonably indebted to his or her assets.
He says that, in addition to reforming the gambling market, mechanisms and rules should be put in place to prevent fast-paced companies from targeting advertising to gambling addicts.
- Regulation of consumer credit was increased, but the addict can still become heavily indebted by taking those loans.
In addition, according to Pöyry, more should be invested in supporting indebted people, as resources are currently relatively small.
Veikkaus' mandatory identification can help to identify and help gambling addicts faster.
According to Pöyry, helping those who have lost their money to foreign online casinos is already more difficult.
The slot machines were closed for a long time due to the corona.
Photo: Kai Sinervo
A survey published by the Preventing Substance Abuse Work (EHYT) and commissioned by Taloustutkimus at the end of April and an open online survey published at the end of May indicated that the closure of slot machines would not have significantly increased online gambling.
According to the study, the average amount of money spent on gambling even decreased with the interest rate.
However, Riitta Matilainen, head of EHYT's gambling disability unit, believes that Korona has exacerbated addiction and caused financial problems for some gamblers.
- Although, according to our research, Korona did not increase online gambling as much as we feared, it is possible that the situation is different, for example, for the most seriously gambling problem, Matilainen reflects.
He also stresses that no more extensive research has been done since May.
Matilainen also reminds that online gaming alone does not necessarily explain large losses. You can also lose thousands of euros by playing the game machines in the shops.
- According to international studies, those who have had serious gambling problems before the corona have continued to actively gamble online.
- On the other hand, gambling is involved in many transactions. During the Corona period, when slot machines were out of order, a large proportion did not play at all.
Finally, Matilainen would like to remind you that domestic gambling is no less addictive than a foreign one.
- It is often said that people are indebted to foreign gambling sites. Yes, they do get into debt, but Veikkaus' games are also addictive, and playing them can cause problems for themselves. However, due to the Korona period, on 1 May, the maximum loss limits for Veikkaus' fast-paced online gambling were calculated.
The calculated loss limits are valid until the end of September.