Gambling is part of everyday life in Finland and traditionally considered to be a source of fun for the whole country. However, gambling may cause problems and become excessive, which is why it is important to prevent the harmful effects of gambling.

A man gmbling in a supermarket hall
Photo: Jukka Rapo / EHYT ry

Gambling refers to the wagering of money or something of value in a game. When gambling, the gambler may win entirely or partially on the basis of chance.  

In Finland, the Act on Substance Abuse Prevention entered into force in 2015. The prevention of gambling problems became part of substance abuse prevention.

The most popular forms of gambling in Finland are the Lotto lottery, scratch cards and slot machines. Nearly 80 per cent of Finns have gambled during the past year. Of this group, 64 per cent gamble with moderation and 11 per cent, or 397,000 people, are at-risk gamblers.

Approximately 3 per cent, or 112,000, of Finns have a gambling problem. Potential gambling addiction affects 1.4 per cent of them, or 52,000 people. In addition to the gamblers themselves, the gambling problem concerns 790,000 friends and relatives of the gamblers. Read more about gambling and help available to gambling problems in Finland

Factors that make a person vulnerable to the risks associated with gambling include, for instance, weak self-esteem, experience-seeking personality, mental problems, abundant use of alcohol, and ADHD. Some gamblers seek escape from difficult life situations.  In addition, certain medication may lower impulse control and, as a result, expose the person to gambling addiction.

From the perspective of the prevention of gambling harm, it is important to talk about gambling and identify high-risk gambling.

To make this easier, EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention has developed a model for bringing the subject into conversation, consisting of two questions: Which gambling games have you played in the last 12 months and how often do you gamble? 

A typical feature of a gambling problem is that gambling starts to control your life. Gambling may take precedence over basic needs and obligations. A gambling problem usually involves secrecy and shame.

Excessive gambling may cause financial or mental problems or problems in interpersonal relationships. At the level of society, consequences include treatment and social welfare costs, absences from work, reduced work performance and potentially also crime.

If you have problems with gambling, the Peluuri service is there to help. You can also contact Gamblers Anonymous, for instance.