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Wednesday's papers: Sipilä denials, slot machine costs and marginalised youth

Wednesday's newspapers include fallout and follow-up from a scandalous political book published on Tuesday, the state of the Finnish gambling market, and a report on marginalised youth in Finland.

RAY:n peliautomaatin Alkemia-peli.
Finns spend a relatively big chunk of their income on slot machines. Image: Perttu Ruokangas / Yle

Tuesday's paper review included revelations about how the summer's government crisis unfolded, culled from a new book published by Aamulehti journalist Lauri Nurmi. To recap: the drama of the defection and possible collapse of the government was overplayed at the time, as the plan to form a new parliamentary group and stay in government had germinated long before the right of the Finns Party seized power through the elevation of Jussi Halla-aho to the leadership.

On Wednesday attention turned to political reaction to the book. First up was Juha Sipilä, who flat-out denied having advance knowledge of the Finns Party MP's plan to defect. This is important, as the PM had famously flown to Naantali (piloting the plane himself) to personally hand in the government's resignation to President Sauli Niinistö.

That plan was cancelled at the last minute, when Sipilä received news of the Finns Party MPs' defections and desire to support the government. The allegation now, which Sipilä denies but the media are still pursuing, is that Sipilä lied to parliament when he said that he had not prepared for the split.

Nurmi says he has multiple sources and stands by his information that Sipilä was kept informed of the plot following the leadership election by Timo Soini's right-hand man, Samuli Virtanen.

Ilta-Sanomat reports that the president, Sauli Niinistö, was unimpressed at the time and refused to hold a joint press conference with Sipilä announcing, effectively, that the crisis had been cancelled.

Gambling problems

Helsingin Sanomat has taken a look at new international research on gambling due to be published next year by Oxford University Press. The study found that Finns spend a bigger proportion of their income on gambling than people in many other countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada.

The Finnish researcher on the project, Pekka Sulkunen, puts that down to the prevalence of slot machines run by the state-owned gambling monopoly Veikkaus.

"Finland is like the Wild West of gambling because there are slot machines everywhere, and they are the worst predators," said Sulkunen. "Their location should be regulated in the legislation."

The study found that half of most gambling firms' income comes from just a few percent of their customers, and that the biggest gambling problems are found among lower-income groups.

Disaffected boys

HS also carries a report from the Me-Säätiö, a foundation tackling social exclusion, which found that there are now some 69,000 marhinalised young people in Finland. That figure is on the rise since the financial crisis, after a long decline from the peak of some 90,000 during the 1990s. In the last ten years the figure has grown by some 15,000.

The foundation attributes the problem to unemployment, a lack of training and education, mental health issues and difficulty in participating in hobbies. If a young person suffers from two of those issues, their chances of being marginalised are already significantly greater.

The cost of all this marginalisation is around 1.4 billion euros per year, according to one of the researchers involved, which equates to around 20,000 euros per marginalised individual.

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