Gambling here in Finland, that was a government monopoly called Veikkaus, has been never seen as an immoral pastime but more a great way to support amateur sport and care of the aged and infirm.
Every week for decades millions of Finns have spent a few euros on Lotto with one chance in a million for winning a big pot of cash. It felt like you were doing some good…
The Internet has now changed the nature of gambling for Finns. The introduction of betting on foreign internet sites caused the government’s monopoly to adapt. It quickly increased its range of betting alternatives and started more aggressive advertising.
The company continued to claim to be a responsible manager of betting and said that it is careful to ensure that players do not become addicted or suffer in any way. They even have websites to help those in need of support…
Well, that’s the official story!
The reality is that their main customers are pensioners and others with low incomes who dream of winning, many of whom are addicted to gambling. Their advertising is aggressive and as stated in this newspaper in 2017, one-arm bandits systematically rob poor customers in biggest retail shops, producing big profits at the expense of low income folks, and it was estimated that some 120 000, became addicted…
Many people who spend their Euros on these machines are normally entitled to rental and living subsidies, so while the companies make a nice profit, the taxpayers pay out even more in subsidies!
The 2 big retail companies, Kesko and S-Group who have a 84% market share of the retail markets, have placed the one-arm bandits in the best spots in their shops and the supermarkets, and expect the managers to achieve stated monthly profits from their use.
At the same time, Veikkaus’ senior management, its board and supervisory board have enjoyed many pleasant benefits – the management have received very generous renumeration, and the two boards, made up of “deserving politicians” have enjoyed nice fees and holiday treats in Lapland in big well-equipped log cabins.
Then things started to change in August with the broadcasting of new advertisements on TV that were really way beyond what most people think of “good taste”. The result has been planned big cutbacks in the number of arm-bandits in shops and electronic checks on players.
Naturally, the company is complaining that there will be less money for handouts to friends and family but that is probably a good thing… it is indefensible to have the 2 big retail shops raking in huge profits from these machines ands addiction is less pervasive when betting controlled more carefully.
Betting on games of chance are always a fool’s game when the odds are always stacked so much against the players.