Online gambling has been dealt with through different approaches in different European countries. Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia and the Czech Republic do not allow any commercial online gambling operators and the government hold monopoly on the lottery and actual and virtual casinos. Majority of European countries have a partly regulated online gambling market while only a few: UK, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, and Estonia have a fully or partly deregulated online gambling market.
In addition to lack of regulations, Malta’s tax reliefs have made the small island the Mecca of online gambling in Europe. More than 300 companies with estimated 12000 employees have established themselves in Malta, from where they offer their services globally. Among those who have moved there are at least 400 Finns. Malta has thus been called “The Silicon Valley of Casinos”
Regulation, of course, prohibits the establishment of companies and marketing, but does not prevent the public from joining and using any online casino, operating from any part of the world and wins can be legally cashed in. Gambling, like porn, alcohol, and tobacco is considered a personal choice for adults and is not illegal in any European country.
While only Veikkaus, PAF (Åland equivalent of Veikkaus) and Finntoto are allowed to offer online and offline gambling to the Finnish population, there are up to 100 international sites offering Finnish language gambling sites. Veikkaus and Paf also operate actual casinos and plenty of slot machines in Finland.
Finland's slot machines for gambling situated in public places are exceptional for Western countries. As the cashier at a till hands over a coin as change, many Finns advance to the slot machine by the entrance in a routine-like manner to try their luck. In other Western countries, such a habit is very unordinary.
"In other countries gambling machines are usually situated in casinos, restaurants, and bars, whereas in Finland they are a part of people's everyday life in shops, kiosks and petrol stations," says development coordinator Tapio Jaakkola from Gambling Clinic (Peliklinikka), specialized in gambling addictions.
A valid argument offered by the government in regulated countries is preventing gambling addiction and the resulting financial crisis to individuals by limiting the amount people can gamble and on the other hand recycling the profits to the society for good causes. Veikkaus and PAF return the majority of their profit to culture, sports, research and other social causes. The third argument is the reliability of the gambling operator. Government-owned companies do not cheat.
Same could not be said about commercial online gambling sites and because of the vastly unregulated international market and difficulty of control, there is no guarantee that sites could be reliable. Several services such as Kantacasino.com have tried to solve this problem by star ranking and auditing online gaming sites based on reliability, the number of games available, offered bonuses, and user-friendliness of sites.
According to the Ministry of health of Finland, 2,7 % of Finns in the age group of 15-74 suffer from gambling problems at different levels. That is 110 000 Finns. Gambling problems are three times more common among men than women (men 4,7 %, women 1,6 %). The change of the age limit (K-18) in 2011 has significantly reduced gambling within the group of young males. Gambling among girls was rarer already before the amendment. There are several different sites offering help and information for people with gambling problems, such as Pluuri, Gametalk and Peli poikki.