66 percent of respondents in Taloustutkimus-managed poll say state-run gambling monopoly should remain unchanged
In Finland, a poll by the independent research company Taloustutkimus has shown that 66 percent of respondents indicated that they favoured the retention of the current state-run gambling monopoly system over opening the market to foreign private companies.
Those in favour of keeping the state-owned gambling scheme were mostly older women, according to the poll, which was commissioned by the local YLE television network.
Only about 20 percent of the respondents said they would like to break up the monopoly… mostly younger adult males.
Finns have been assessed as the fifth biggest gamblers worldwide (H2 Gambling Capital figures) and the monopoly issue, along with the possibility of change, has been discussed for years.
Supporters of opening up the monopoly claim that the state could benefit from licence fees and taxation, but most lawmakers believe the monopoly, which provides funds for community projects, should stand.
Three companies – merged last year – control legal domestic gambling in Finland: RAY, the Slot Machine Association which also runs casinos; Veikkaus, the national betting agency for lottery tickets and sports wagers; and Finntoto, for bets on horse races. Existing Finnish law specifies that all domestic gambling operators must be state owned.
Juho Rahkonen, head researcher at Taloustutkimus, says that the latest poll results show that Finns continue to trust the government in regard to the control of gambling.
"In contrast to many other countries, people in Finland don't believe that the state is evil and trust that it can carry out these kinds of services," he said in a YLE interview.
"At the same time it shows a rather broad criticism against market liberalism and reflects a fear that gambling profits would disappear to tax havens overseas if private gaming companies would take over."
Five percent of Finnish gamblers are potentially problem gamblers, YLE reports, observing that this relatively small category generates 50 percent of the national gambling revenue of around Euro 1 billion annually.
Finns wager around Euro 10 billion a year on the lotteries, slots and sports competitions, which translates to revenues of around Euro 2 billion annually distributed to communities and charities.
Following changes to the Lotteries Act late last year, a government working group at the Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with tackling problem gambling, removing this responsibility from the state's gambling monopoly.
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