Ministry of Social Affairs and Health sets priorities for the prevention and treatment of gambling problems for 2020–2023
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has defined strategic priorities that will steer the monitoring and research of the harms caused by gambling, the development of prevention and treatment for such harms, and the related risk assessment in the period 2020–2023. These priorities are based on the powers and obligations entrusted to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health under section 52 of the Lotteries Act.
According to the strategic policy line, it is essential to strengthen the State monopoly whose objective is to prevent and reduce the harms resulting from gambling. To remain monopoly, more effective work to prevent and reduce harm is required. The prevention and reduction of harm caused by gambling covers a wide range of measures at different levels, with responsibility divided between several players. Veikkaus Oy, a state-owned company, has the monopoly on the provision of gambling services in Finland.
The primary objective the legislation sets for the gambling system is to prevent and reduce the harms caused by gambling, and to ensure the legal protection of gamblers. Achievement of this goal requires development and implementation of preventive and corrective measures based on research into gambling habits and the harmful effects of gambling. A stronger knowledge base will make us better equipped to respond to challenges in the changing operating environment, such as cross-border gambling.
The strategic priorities for activities to address the harms caused by gambling for 2020–2023:
- Assessment of the gambling system and its implementation, and required support;
- Definition, measurement and level of harm;
- High-risk groups and problem gambling; and
- The availability and quality of support and care.
The Ministry’s vision is to bring the risks and harms associated with gambling under control. This requires coordinated actions in line with the priorities, connections between research, development and communication, and cooperation between all players in the sector. In addition, actions must be continuously monitored and assessed.
Actions rely on strong cooperation. Assessment of the risks associated with gambling is carried out by a working group operating in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has entrusted the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) with carrying out and coordinating other work referred to in section 52 of the Lotteries Act.
More funding for the prevention of harm caused by gambling
More funding is becoming available for activities to reduce the harms caused by the provision of gambling services under section 52 of the Lotteries Act. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s projections, the total annual costs of such activities may amount to EUR 5 million in 2020–2023. In 2020, EUR 3 million is available for these activities. For the period 2016–2019 the sum is EUR 2.5 million. The activities will be intensified systematically, as needed.
In practice, the activities are based on a framework agreement with THL and subordinate cooperation agreements. Action to be taken this year is included in the 2020 Action Plan The monitoring and research on the harms of gambling, and methods of prevention and treatment. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health uses gambling and gambler data provided by Veikkaus to further improve its assessment work.
Preparation of the gambling policy programme about to begin
The implementation of section 52 of the Lotteries Act involves a gambling policy programme referred to in the Government Programme. Such a policy programme has never previously been implemented in Finland. Its preparation, led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, will begin in early 2020. The programme will be drawn up and implemented in cooperation with actors involved in the steering of gambling activities and in the prevention and reduction of related harms. The objective is to maximise the prevention of harms caused by gambling, and to ensure the availability of care and support services for gambling problem.
In spring 2019, in connection with the preparation of its strategic priorities, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health held an extensive consultation of various stakeholders. This provided an overall picture of the operating environment, the future challenges of gambling policy, and the future needs and expectations regarding actions to be taken under section 52 of the Lotteries Act.
Mari Pajula, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 2951 6 3040
Saini Mustalampi, Chief Specialist, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL, tel. +358 2952 47188