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Whereas in other countries, gambling machines are usually set in casinos, in Finland they are in shops or kiosks and have become a part of people’s daily lives.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 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), specialised in gambling addictions.

Therefore, Finns spend a lot of their time gambling.

"The arrangement ensures that Finns play the most in Europe," says the special analyst Antti Murto from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos) department of cigarette, intoxicant and gambling problems.

Last spring, The Economist magazine published a research by a British consulting company H2 Gambling Capital, according to which only Australians and Singaporeans spend more money on gambling than Finns. The company estimated that every Finnish adult spent approximately 470 euros on gambling last year.

Obviously, for most Finns it's harmless entertainment. For some, it becomes an addiction, and the scattering of slot machines in public places does not make it any easier.

Simultaneously, Finland's Slot Machine Association (Raha-automaattiyhdistys) has also contributed to making gambling easier: in 2009, the slot machines were equipped with card and note payment terminals.

"Card payment option invalidates the attempt to stop gambling by not carrying any cash with you," says Jaakkola.

ILTALEHTI 16 November. ANNE KAURANEN
LEHTIKUVA / MARTTI KAINULAINEN