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Problem gambling and gambling harm

A large number of people in Finland suffer from serious gambling problems. In 2019, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare estimated that around 52,000 people had a probable addiction to gambling and 112,000 people had a gambling problem. Gambling caused harm to almost 400,000 people in Finland. In addition to direct harm to players, gambling problems are reflected in society at large. About one in five Finns feel that one or more persons close to them suffer from problem gambling.

One of the key purposes of the Lotteries Act is to prevent and reduce the harm caused by gambling. According to the Act gambling services must be provided in such a way that the legal protection of the participants is guaranteed, abuses and offences are prevented, and the economic, social and health-related harm caused by gambling is prevented and reduced.

The objective of preventing and reducing harm caused by gambling has been considered in several provisions of the Lotteries Act. The rules of play issued by a Ministry of the Interior decree also contain provisions on the pace and other characteristics of games. If necessary, the gambling operator must set quantitative and time restrictions for online games in order to reduce the harm caused by gambling. The objective of reducing social and health-related harm has also been considered in the regulation of the marketing of gambling, which is monitored by the National Police Board.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for monitoring and studying gambling-related problems and for developing prevention and treatment. This task is shared by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare which, among other things, conducts a survey on gambling in Finland every four years. Its latest survey was published in 2020. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has appointed an evaluation group for the preliminary assessment of harm risks related to the provision of gambling services and for the monitoring of adverse effects.