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The Finnish gambling question: Is the poor fund the rich?



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For many years, Finland’s state gambling monopoly in the form of Veikkaus has been hailed as a model system. Veikkaus operates slot machines, lotteries and betting on horse races, attracting a vast majority of Finland’s population. The gambling proceeds fund organisations in culture, sports, research, youth work, social welfare and health.

In other words, it looks like a win-win situation for all. People can legally gamble, and their losses fund common good causes.

However, things are not rosy they appear. Recently emerged empirical data reveal one particularly serious flaw: problem gamblers – usually economically backward people comprising pensioners, the unemployed and the jobless who mainly use in slot machines – contribute to more than 23 per cent of gambling proceeds. According to a study done by Finland’s National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), 80 per cent of the Finns gamble. Among them, just 3.3 per cent can be termed as problem gamblers, and they contribute more than one-fifth of the gambling revenue.

Annika Saarikko, Finland’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, has noted that up to 700,000 people in Finland are negatively affected by problem gambling when family members are included.

Jani Selin, an expert on Finnish gambling policy and a researcher at THL, says that the underprivileged are also “overrepresented” among problem gamblers.

“We know this from loads of international studies that people who come from lower socio-economic circumstances tend to gamble more,” Selin said. “It’s an almost universally accepted claim. It is the same in Finland. We have known this for a long time.”

Profit-seeking vs addiction interventions

It has been reported that slot machines – which are usually the biggest problem game for the poor – are more highly concentrated in neighbourhoods with people with lower income, education, and employment levels. In the article, a Veikkaus representative claimed that the placement of machines simply follows “client flows.”

European Union regulations only allow state monopolies that reduce and prevent gambling-related harms. Accordingly, Veikkaus’ executive vice president Velipekka Nummikoski told Yle that the company has a responsibility strategy which affects where it places machines. “Business factors are just one aspect which we base the location of our slot machines on,” he said. “They are by no means the only one.”

Rather than limiting the availability of slot machines as recommended by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Nummikoski explained that Veikkaus’ position is that authentication – where users verify their identities before they can play – (scheduled for 2023) would be the best way to deal with problem gambling. Restricting slot machines to gaming arcades would also mean taking them out of the reach of hundreds of Finnish communities, and Veikkaus says it wants games “to be available to as many Finns as possible in an equal manner.”

THL’s Selin disputes Veikkaus’ claims that profit isn’t driving decisions behind where to place slot machines. “They are only thinking about the revenue – the business side—when they place the slots in the neighborhoods,” Selin said. He and his colleagues think that other factors must be taken into consideration. “It makes no sense to put all the slot machines, for instance, in the neighborhoods where there are lots of socio-economic problems already.”

Neighbording Sweden is one of the only countries which has tried to calculate what economist Earl Grinols calls the “hidden” costs of gambling. In 2009, Svenska Spel, the state-owned gambling company in Sweden, produced a report for the European Commission which looked at a range of issues: the cost of depression, the loss of output through unemployment, the cost of treating problem gamblers, the cost of crime, and cost of state efforts to combat it.

The report says that at least 230–450 million euros (2018 exchange rate) is lost every year, mostly from reduced economic productivity. Because of a number of costs it did not or could not calculate, the report says the number is likely higher.

Svenska Spel’s operating profit was 495 million euros in 2009. This means that gambling proceeds handed over to the government nearly matched the social and economic cost of problem gambling, perhaps even more. While Svenska Spel does not control as much of Sweden’s market (in 2009, about 50 per cent) as Veikkaus does in Finland (today, about 90 per cent), the results are still striking. If all of the hidden costs of gambling were calculated in Finland, where problem gambling is even more of a problem, it is possible the economic loss could be even bigger.

Sources: Yle News / Joel Gillin

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iGB L!VE announce LaunchPad, a new feature for start-ups with ‘innovation in their DNA’



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Industry professionals attending July’s edition of iGB L!VE will have access to a vibrant new feature which will showcase ground-breaking tech and innovation courtesy of the brightest start-ups and small businesses in gaming.

The iGB L!VE LaunchPad (Pulse Stage: 18 July 16.30hrs – 18.00hrs) will feature five companies to present their innovations to a panel of judges with each presentation followed by a probing Q&A session designed to interrogate the viability and commercial prowess of each product pitch.

Introducing the new feature Portfolio Director Naomi Barton, said: “iGB L!VE is constantly evolving in order to meet the business needs of stakeholders. The research programme that we undertake with customers has consistently highlighted a shared desire to always be ahead of the curve, being the first to access the very latest innovations from the start-up community is part of what iGB L!VE 2024 will deliver.

“In addition, we want to provide a platform for new talented businesses to grow by giving them extra exposure in front of an influential C-Level audience of industry investors and influencers.

“The top five products will be hand-selected by the iGB L!VE team and invited to present from the Pulse Stage. In order to help these businesses, we are providing cash prizes of £5,000 for the winner, £2,500 for second place and £1,000 for third.”

She continued: “We will be giving the feature an authentic iGB L!VE twist with the emphasis on competitive fun. To ensure this, I am delighted to confirm that 25+ year industry veteran and non-exec Clarion Gaming Chairman Michael Caselli has agreed to be our MC and will also head a panel of judges drawn from across the iGB L!VE community of industry professionals, investors and sponsors.

“Start-ups and small businesses which have innovation in their DNA can sign up for iGB LaunchPad at igblive by the 28 June deadline.”

iGB L!VE is the home of the igaming community and the only event that connects the leading igaming affiliates, operators, tech vendors, game providers and suppliers in order to maximise performance and drive tangible business growth in the following 12-18 months. iGB L!VE, which is the fastest growing igaming event, delivers unparalleled business opportunities with attendees having free access to in excess of 300 exhibitors and sponsors occupying 21,000+ square metres of gross space, a figure which is 35% higher than in 2023.

For more information on iGB L!VE (16-19 July 2024: Expo Days 17-18 July) and to register for free visit: igblive website


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Ortak x B.F.T.H. Arena Awards 2024 Features Mr. First Ray by Endorphina



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The Ortak x B.F.T.H. Arena Awards 2024 welcomes Endorphina among other top game developers with its Mr. First Ray, a mystical slot game that captures the essence of dawn.

This year’s competition has seen an unprecedented increase in participation, receiving over 100 submissions from more than 70 developers involved in the innovative Ortak initiative. This platform not only promotes collaboration and innovation but also integrates gaming stakes with NFTs on the Bahamut blockchain, thereby broadening investment prospects in the iGaming sector.

Mr. First Ray transports players into a world where each spin can lead to magical wins and enchanting surprises, making it a standout in this year’s entries. As the event approaches, excitement mounts among industry professionals keen to explore this showcase of creativity and excellence in game development, scheduled from July 1 to 4.

Hosted by BetConstruct, the B.F.T.H. Arena Awards provides a prestigious platform for developers to exhibit their creativity and compete for a share of the substantial 3,333,000 FTN prize pool. This year, the event has broadened its scope, introducing new award categories to further celebrate innovation in gaming.

The culmination of the event will see the winners announced at the B.F.T.H. Arena x Harmony Meetup V, ensuring an exhilarating experience for all attendees.

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Industry News




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Spotlight Sports Group (SSG), a world-leading technology, content, and media company specialising in sports betting, has partnered with both William Hill and Betfred to deliver content hubs for Euro 2024.

The upcoming international tournament provides a prime opportunity for operators to generate revenue, and Spotlight Sports Group assists in that right through industry-leading content hubs. SSG Content Hubs allow sportsbooks in any territory the chance to offer a premium and rich content experience, without the technical burden.

The end-to-end product and content solution provided by SSG includes expert editorial, data and statistics that are delivered across multiple formats and customisable for individual bookmaker websites. Designed and created in-house, the specific event hubs allow customers to provide interactive betting experiences, compatible across all devices and include live odds and add-to-bet-slip functionality.

In addition, the content hub provides a Best Bet widget that features daily accumulators and Bet Builder picks, as well as the best daily offers and enhanced odds from the bookmaker partners. Video tipping content is also available for every match, as is a scouting report for every team and every fixture, highlighting the most popular players for Bet Builder selections.

Lee Phelps, William Hill Spokesperson said: “The Euros is one of the biggest tournaments around for bettors, and having Spotlight Sports Groups content hubs, means we can provide a real experience for our customers throughout the tournament with editorial, bet prompts and data”.

Mark Hartley, Head of Sports Product at Betfred, was similarly pleased with the deal: We’re delighted to partner with SSG ahead of Euro 2024. We’re excited by the opportunities it brings to us ahead of one of our busiest periods of the year as a bookmaker.”

Sam Houlding, Spotlight Sports Group’s Managing Director of B2B, has shared his excitement at partnering with two of the UK’s leading bookmakers: “It’s great to have two of our key partners taking our content hubs for the biggest tournament of the year. Our content has a proven record of driving revenue, and as it is available in any language globally it appeals to customers all around the world”.

Spotlight Sports Group’s Content Hubs are proven to drive revenues with a rich content experience for betting audiences.


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