The Finnish gaming system

In Finland the gaming is directed by the Finnish Lotteries Act. Gaming operator Veikkaus has exclusive rights to organize games on the continent of Finland. In the Åland Islands the gaming is operated by PAF.

The aim of the monopoly system used in Finland is to restrain the social and health related harms caused by games; such as uncontrolled gambling, crime and set-ups, as well as to guarantee the honesty of the games and the legal protection of the consumers.

The European Union allows the restriction of the competition with certain conditions: the prerequisite of the monopoly is a genuine and consistent effort to reach to goals set for the restriction of the harms, which fulfilment is regulated by the parliament and the Commission of the European Union.

The gaming profits are used for utilitarian purposes, in accordance with the Lotteries Act.

The gaming profits are used for funding of:

  • science, art, sport and youth work
  • social and welfare organizations, the helping of the less fortunate and the rehabilitation of the war veterans
  • the promoting of horse breeding and equestrian sports

The National Police Board is responsible of the surveillance of the advertising of gambling games and other games.

The follow-up and research of the harms caused by gambling is conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, who is also responsible for the prevention of these harms and the development of treatments. The Ministry fulfils these obligations in collaboration with the National Institute of Health and Welfare.

All gambling has been forbidden for persons under the age of 18 since the amendment that went into effect 1.7.2011. It has distinctly decreased gambling of young people. The responsibility for the surveillance of the age limit lies with the gaming operators as well as with the representatives and sellers of the games. Neglecting the surveillance of the age limit can lead to criminal responsibility.

Statistics of gambling by Finnish people

Finns are active gamblers. In 2013 Finns lost a total of 1,7 million euro in games provided by RAY, Veikkaus and Fintoto. There are no exact figures of the amounts spent on games operated by foreign gaming operators, but according to different evaluations Finnish losses in these games are around 100-300 million euro. The highest assessment is given by the British consulting company H2 Gambling Capital, which estimated Finnish gambling losses to over 2 billion euro for 2013 in an article published in the magazine ”Economist”. There are no exact data of the revenue of the gambling industry. Nevertheless, the revenue is multiple compared to losses of the players or the profits of the gaming operators. 

Finnish gambling has been summarized twice: in the years 2009 and 2012. The Finnish gaming system and gaming policy, the frequency and surveillance of gambling, returns and statistics as well as the changes between years 2008 and 2001 is described in the most recent Yearbook of Finnish Gambling 2012 (Suomalaisen rahapelaamisen vuosikirja 2012) .

According to the report:

  • In 2011 the profits of the gaming operators (the losses of the players) were 1620, 7 million €.
  • Altogether 917,5 million € (+ 161,7 million € in taxes) were distributed for common good.
  • A Finnish adult spent on average 376,4 € on domestic gaming: 193,2 € on games operated by Veikkaus, 171,3 € on games operated by RAY and 12,0 € on games operated by Finntoto.
  • In 2009 the profit of the gaming operators were 1468,8 million €: gambling has grown roughly 10 % within a couple of years.
  • The exact total consumption on gambling is not known, because Finns do also gamble on foreign gaming websites and through own illegal betting.

How do we feel about gambling?

  • Two thirds of Finns consider problem gambling to be a serious problem 
  • 91 % of Finns thinks that gambling shouldn´t be encouraged to
  • 71 % of Finns do, at least to some extent, think that there are too many opportunities to gamble
  • 78 % do not want gambling to be banned all together
  • Three of four Finns find the monopoly system to be a good way to reduce harms caused by gambling
  • 85 % find the age limit of 18 years to be a good way to reduce gambling problems

Who gambles?

In Finland a wide population survey concerning Finns gambling is conducted every four years. The most recent one was published in 2012 (data collected in 2011). New data will be collected in 2015. 4484 Finns within the age group of 15-74 answered to the population survey published in 2012 (40 % of the eligible).

According to the survey:

  • 78 % have gambled within the last 12 months – 73% of the women and 83 % of the men. The amount corresponds to circa 3,1 million Finns.
  • 12 % of all those who answered gamble several times a week, 34 % around once a week.
  • A Finn spent on average 2,2 % of his/her net earnings on gambling; problem gamblers on average 11,5 %.
  • Gambling is most common within the age groups of 25-34 and 35-49. In both groups 96 % had gambled at some point.
  • Gambling is more common among those who are working compared to students, stay at home mums, pensioners and unemployed.
  • Gambling is more common among those who live alone compared to those with a family.
  • One fifth has gambled online: online gambling is most common within the group of 25-34 males.
  • The most popular games are Lotto/Vikinglotto/Jokeri (74 % has played), the lottery tickets by Veikkaus (37 %), slot machines (36 %).

Men start to gamble at a younger age then women. They also prefer games that aren´t based purely on luck (sport betting, poker). Women play more games of pure chance like slot machines and roulette.

Gambling is concentrated: a small group of all gamblers bring in the majority of the gaming profits. The top 5 % brings in approximately half of the gaming profits.


Source material:

Yearbook of Finnish Gambling 2012 

The Lotteries Act

Suomalaisten rahapelaaminen 2011 (2012). (THL). Raportti 14/2012.