Harm caused by gambling

Pursuant to the Lotteries Act, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for monitoring and researching the harm caused by gambling addiction and for developing treatment and prevention measures. 

Work to prevent the harm caused by gambling is regulated by the Act on Organising Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Gambling Prevention. 

Gambling causes social, financial and health-related harm. The harmful effects of gambling affect not only gamblers themselves, but also people close to them and society in general. People with gambling-related problems can receive treatment and support from healthcare and social welfare services, as well as services provided by various non-governmental organisations.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL):
  • researches gambling behaviour and gambling-related harm

  • monitors the regulation of gambling activities in society 

  • prevents the harmful effects associated with gambling, and 

  • is responsible for developing the treatment system. 

Research on the harm caused by gambling as laid down in the Lotteries Act is also carried out at the University of Helsinki Centre for Research on Addiction, Control and Governance (CEACG) and in projects funded by the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies.  

Monitoring the effects of gambling operations

A working group that evaluates the risks and harms associated with gambling operates in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The working group is a permanent body. Its task is to evaluate 

  • gambling products

  • the distribution of gambling products, and

  • factors affecting the availability of gambling activities in relation to the above. 

The working group monitors, assesses and issues statements on existing games and new games that emerge on the market. The assessment takes into account various distribution channels and other measures that affect the availability and accessibility of games, such as marketing and responsible gambling tools. The assessment and monitoring are targeted at the overall range of available games. 

The purpose of the gambling system is to prevent the harmful effects of gambling

The objective of the Finnish gambling system is to prevent the harmful effects caused by gambling. In reforming the gambling system and Lotteries Act, the objective is to reduce the social, financial and health-related harm caused by gambling activities. 

In Finland, gambling operations are run by State owned company Veikkaus Oy. Veikkaus Oy started its operations in 2017, as the previous three operators Fintoto, Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY), and Veikkaus merged into a single gambling company. The Finnish gambling system is based on a statutory monopoly. Gambling activities are regulated by the Lotteries Act:

Veikkaus reimburses the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for the costs incurred in its statutory tasks of monitoring and research on the harmful effects of gambling and development of prevention and treatment as laid down in the Lotteries Act.  

Further information

Mari Pajula, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Hyvinvointi- ja palveluosasto / HPO, Asiakkuus ja toimintaympäristö -yksikkö / ASTO, Hyvinvoinnin- ja terveydensuojelu -tulosryhmä / HYT 0295163040