According to a study conducted by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), 3 per cent of Finns are facing gambling-related problems. The amount of players with a gambling problem has stayed the same over the past few years. However, during that same time playing at a high-risk level has been decreasing within both women and men. How will the Coronavirus pandemic affect these numbers, remains to be seen, but for now the numbers are looking surprisingly good. What are the factors that could explain these changes?
Gambling companies are enhancing their responsible gaming tools
Veikkaus in Finland and online gaming companies abroad are nowadays setting up entire divisions around responsible gaming, creating effective algorithms to detect gambling problems from an early stage and adding various kinds of tools for the players to use themselves in order to prevent problems now or in the future. The Finnish state betting monopoly Veikkaus is taking the same kinds of measures, and this week it made a significant change to its policies: currently the loss limit for players has been decreased to 500 euros.
Decreases in loss limits
Veikkaus is making massive changes to its online casino policies. The company enhances its responsible gaming tools by decreasing the loss limits. Starting from 1st of May 2020 the monthly loss limit, and the daily loss limit for a player are both 500 euros. Before the changes, the loss limit for one month has been 2 000 euros, and the daily limit of 1 000 euros.
These changes are valid at least until the end of September. According to the National Police Board of Finland, changes might also be needed after the corona pandemic. The Minister of Interior, Maria Ohisalo, has stated that especially now with the corona pandemic it is very important to make these changes, as people are now forced to stay at home, and they have more time to play online. The goal of decreasing the loss limits is to prevent gambling-related problems from growing not only from the economic aspect but from the social perspective as well.
More talk about gambling problems
Today people are more open to talking about gambling-related issues that they might be facing. A former gaming addict, Jenna Mäkelä, has been very vocal in the media and has also published a book about her own experiences with online casinos.
Mäkelä and others who have come forward with their gambling-related problems have set the path for others to talk more openly about their issues as well. The more the players learn about gambling-related issues, the more self-aware they become of their gaming habits. This may also have had an impact on the decrease in high-risk gambling.
Will corona affect future statistics?
Finns are used to having the possibility to gamble even when visiting a grocery store or a gas station. Now that Veikkaus has closed every single slot machine in the country; it will probably affect the number of gambling-related problems for the near future. The next study conducted by THL will reveal how a large number of players with a gambling problem have shifted to playing online, and what percentage of players have reduced their playing time and budget to the minimum.