Finnish punters perfectly happy with state monopoly on wagering activity

  • A recently conducted public survey shows 70% support state’s monopoly on betting activity
  • Finland ranks among top 10 gambling nations; online casinos have seen rapid growth

Finnish bettors overwhelmingly support the existing state monopoly on gambling in the country, according to a recent poll that has been conducted. The survey, commissioned by public broadcasting company YLE, found support for the state’s monopoly among 70% of those questioned.

The survey’s findings are likely to have a significant impact on the ongoing debate regarding the regulation of wagering in the country.

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The Finnish betting market, which includes lotteries and casino games is estimated to be worth more than €2.5 billion, and many people in the industry have argued that it is time for the government to look again at the state’s monopoly.

Betting popular in the country

Wagering is popular in Finland, which ranks among the planet’s top 10 gambling nations. The country has also produced some of the world’s most recognized high stakes poker players, including Patrik Antonius, the all-time leading online earner, Sami Kelopuro, Jens Kyllönen and Ilari Sahamies, and successful tournament player Juha Helppi.

Finland also has a thriving technology sector and is home to some of the world’s most innovative games makers, such as Rovio Entertainment, which produced the hit game Angry Birds.

Given their familiarity with technology, it is no surprise that Finns have taken to online casinos. And it is this particular sector of the industry that has been growing rapidly in recent years.

Following the regulation of online poker in 2010, Finland experienced a poker boom as an estimated 125,000 people played online. According to recent studies, the proportion of adult Finns who bet at least once a year may be as high as 80%, and a Gaming Zion survey found the average Finn spends €14 ($14.86) a week on some form of betting.

Yet, as the YLE survey shows, this love of casino and wagering-related activity has not translated into a widespread desire for gambling reform, and with nearly three-quarters of the population supporting the status quo, there appears to be no incentive for politicians to re-examine the state monopoly.

OUR VERDICT

The Finnish state monopoly of gambling activity exists for a good reason: to restrict and control any social or health related problems related to, and which could arise from people gambling on lotteries and at casinos. Under the current legislation just three operators have exclusive rights to oversea all games and activity in the country, with overseas or offshore gambling not permitted. On the face of it it’s a great thing that the vast majority of Finns want to keep it that way. Such tight regulation means (in theory) more tightly controlled casinos and betting and honesty and visibility for players – something that isn’t always found in any industry. Money from the country’s gambling is fed back into various parts of society and government programmes.

Interestingly, it’s here that there has been issues. Those that have argued against the state monopoly – the EC has protested in the past – argue that the country isn’t necessarily protecting gamblers if they are also letting them use state-run services that fund state-run activities. Interesting argument, isn’t it? You’d have to delve far deeper to understand any further pros and cons, but for the time being it seems that the Finns are more than happy just the way they are.

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