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All Points North #60: Gambling with addiction – does Finland have a problem?

Finland's gambling monopoly Veikkaus says it's taking steps to address the problems that gambling can cause.

Audio: Yle News

Slot machines are a not just a moral problem, they also pose a financial problem, says Pinja Hiltunen, who is campaigning to remove slot machines from Finland's shops. That's because Veikkaus, the state-owned gambling monopoly that has some 21,500 slot machines installed across the country, also contributes one billion euros in profits to government and pays 200 million euros in taxes.

Hiltunen has lived with her mother's gambling addiction and told All Points North how it affected her childhood. She is also a member of a gaming addiction support group Pelirajat'on -- roughly translated as Limits on Games -- that has launched a citizens' initiative to get Veikkaus to pull slot machines from supermarkets, kiosks and other public spaces and to cut back on advertising.

Veikkaus manager for responsible gambling, Hannu Rinkinen, told APN that starting in 2021 mandatory identification at slot machines will help curb problem gaming. He also pointed out that players who gamble online can set daily and monthly transfer limits as well as daily and monthly loss limits.

Veikkaus came under fire during the summer for an ad campaign that seemed to encourage players to indulge their gambling habits. Rinkinen said that the firm has introduced new ethical rules governing advertising and is also cutting down advertising of its slot machines. Ultimately, he said it is up to the firm's owner -- the government -- to decide what to do about the prevalence of slot machines in Finland.

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The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's podcast presenters were Denise Wall and Egan Richardson. Pamela Kaskinen produced the show and the audio engineer was Juha Sarkkinen.

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