The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health coordinates the prevention and reduction of gambling-related harm at the government level. These measures are guided by the Gambling Policy Programme that extends to 2030.
As provided in section 52 of the Lotteries Act, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for monitoring, researching and assessing the harm caused by gambling and for developing prevention and treatment. These tasks are carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in accordance with the mandate of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. THL takes practical measures in accordance with the Ministry’s mandate. It carries out these tasks in cooperation with other operators and coordinates the resulting package of activities.
Besides the Lotteries Act, the Act on Organising Substance Abuse Prevention (523/2015), the government resolution on promoting wellbeing, health and safety, and the legislation on healthcare and social welfare govern the prevention and reduction of gambling-related harm in the administrative branch of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Strategic guidance of the prevention and reduction of gambling-related harm
Every four years, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare draw up a framework agreement guiding the measures to prevent gambling-related harm that fall within the responsibility of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The current agreement period covers the years 2020–2023. In the agreement, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health outlines a vision, strategic approach, priorities and performance targets for monitoring, researching and assessing the harm caused by gambling and for developing prevention and treatment measures in line with section 52 of the Lotteries Act. In accordance with the Lotteries Act, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will charge Veikkaus Oy for the costs incurred. Veikkaus Oy does not participate in the planning or implementation of statutory work. Provisions on collecting fees from Veikkaus Oy are laid down by decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (500/2017).
- Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on collecting fees from Veikkaus Oy (in Finnish)
Monitoring and researching gambling-related harm, and developing prevention and treatment measures in 2020–2023
The strength and justification of the gambling monopoly are determined by how well the implementation of the system succeeds in preventing and reducing the harmful effects of gambling. In accordance with the strategic approach, the work referred to in section 52 of the Lotteries Act will strengthen the ability of the gambling system to prevent and reduce the harm caused by gambling. The Ministry’s vision is to bring the risks and harms associated with gambling under control.
The strategic priorities for 2020–2023 are:
- assessment of the gambling system and its implementation, and required support,
- definition, measurement and level of harm,
- high-risk groups and problem gambling, and
- availability and quality of support and care.
The work on gambling-related harm is based on high-quality scientific research that supports knowledge-based development work. The measures will promote a sustainable gambling policy, increase awareness of gambling-related harm and strengthen the competence of different operators in addressing and dealing with gambling problems. In the development of services, it is essential to ensure the integration of gambling-related harm into substance abuse prevention and the service system.
Prevention of harm resulting from digital gaming
Digital gaming means gaming on, for example, a computer or smartphone, where the primary aim is not to win money but to succeed in the game. However, digital gaming may also involve the use of money. Features typical of digital games are being developed for gambling games, as a result of which gambling and digital gaming are converging.
Gaming disorder is included in the World Health Organization’s 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a medical condition related to digital gaming, and the diagnostic criteria for this disorder are largely similar to those for a gambling disorder. The aim of the Substance Abuse and Addiction Strategy is that the research and monitoring of harm resulting from digital gaming and the development of its prevention and treatment will be integrated into the prevention of gambling-related harm carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. These must also be taken into account in both the Gambling Policy Programme and the Action Plan on Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Gambling.