Customers use slot machines at a shopping centre in Helsinki/Lehtikuva

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Research by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) indicates a clear link between pathological or problem gambling and the need for financial support from the state. 

According to a research article that was recently published in the European Journal of Public Health, one in three respondents (31 percent) in THL’s Gambling Survey who suffered from or were at risk for problem gambling had applied for social benefits from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) in 2016.

The corresponding figure for other respondents was 21 percent. The social benefits offered by Kela included unemployment benefits, sickness allowance, disability pension and social assistance. 

The study also found that gambling problems were more commonly experienced by the unemployed. While 3 percent of the general population had a gambling addiction, the number rose to 16 percent for those who had applied for unemployment benefits. 

Additionally, respondents who were unable to work due to an illness were more likely to fall victim to problem gambling. For instance, 19 percent of those receiving a sickness allowance exhibited or were at risk for addictive behaviour, while the equivalent figure for those collecting a disability pension was 22 percent.  

One in four respondents (25 percent) who had received basic social assistance (required for daily expenses) was inclined towards problem or at-risk gambling. According to Tiina Latvala, Senior Researcher at THL, losing a significant amount of money in gambling puts the person’s health, well-being and even their life at risk.

Previous studies have shown that gambling addiction negatively impacts the financial security of disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, thereby increasing socio-economic inequalities in the country. 

 

Tahira Sequeira

Helsinki Times

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