Finns are more known for Nokia and other technological innovations rather than gambling, even though it’s a very popular past-time for Finns. It has been recorded in recent studies that almost 80 percent of Finns have gambled at least once during the past 12 months. This number is higher than most countries and puts Finns directly on to the top of the most gambling nations in the world. For a country of a little over 5 million inhabitants, this is quite an achievement.
Finland’s gambling history has gone a long way to its current state where players prefer to play online rather than land-based. The Finns have a monopoly system which means that the government has full control over the gambling activity in mainland Finland. It means only one company, Veikkaus, can organize and advertise gambling and betting activities in Finland and Finnish media. This company also owns the most popular gambling website in Finland.
However, as in other monopoly countries, this has not stopped foreign gambling companies from entering the Finnish market. Europe- or Curacao-based casino and betting companies have become increasingly popular in the past 5 years. For true gamblers, these foreign sites are known as the parhaat nettikasinot or best online casinos in English, because of their versatile selection of games and also promotions that aren’t available on Veikkaus’ site.
According to a regular study conducted by the Finnish government, foreign gambling websites took approximately 5 percent of the whole gambling market in Finland in 2019. This number has almost doubled since the previous study was conducted in 2015. It has been pointed out though, that it’s almost impossible to understand the exact popularity of these sites. Thus, the numbers could be even higher.
Finland’s Road to the Peak of Gambling
Finns have been interested in gambling and sports betting for a very long time. At the end of the 19th century, Finns were eagerly gambling on lotteries which were later put under government control. Only government-controlled subsidiaries could organize lotteries after the 1920s. The first of these were rolled out in 1926. In the 1920s, Finns were also introduced to slot machines. At first, slot machines were manually operated. Especially a traditional Finnish arcade game known as Payazzo became very popular.
Electronic slot machines, including electronic Payazzos, were introduced to the public in the 1980s. They replaced the older versions quickly. Also, the variety of games increased. You could play many types of video pokers and fruit slots. In time, all of these games developed. Sports betting and playing bingo were also a favorite past-time for many during the 1980s and 1990s. While bingo’s popularity decreased significantly with the rise of today’s online bingos, physical betting is still hugely popular in the country.
Gambling Is Widely Accepted in Finland
Like it was pointed out earlier, almost 80 percent (exactly 78%) of Finns have gambled at least once in the past year. This tells a story about how it’s socially accepted to gamble for fun. The Finnish government takes problem gambling and risk gambling very seriously. This is why the monopoly system was implemented in the first place: to control gambling activities and to help prevent problematic gambling.
Finns especially love to play slots and lotteries, but also scratch cards are popular. Approximately 36% of all gambling is done online. This number has increased quickly in the 4 years between 2015 and 2019; from the previous 23% to 36%.
In the next research, which is due in 2023, online gambling is expected to continue its steep rise and maybe even pass the 50% mark. The good news is that problem gambling has gone down from 2,0% in 2015 to 1,6% in 2019. The number of risky gamblers also saw a more impressive decline from 15% to approximately 10%.
iGaming Will Be a Big Part of Finland in the Future
Gambling and all types of gaming will be a big part of Finland in the future. Besides iGaming, all types of games such as computer, console and mobile games are at their peak in popularity. The average gamer age in Finland is 44 years, meaning that the gaming market is not controlled by children anymore like in the 1990s. This also has an effect on iGaming and will continue to have in the future as the average gamer age will keep on rising.
While some people choose to play thrilling computer games, others will find their kicks on online casinos. Finns love the excitement that a good casino game can offer. With the current trends, it will be interesting to find out how popular online gambling becomes and how big of a market share the foreign gambling sites will snatch from the Finnish monopoly in the future.