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"Our welfare should not be dependent on problem gamblers"

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 18, 2017 15:31 EET

In most societies, gambling industry profits are used to benefit the common good. But how great is the risk that non-profit associations and organisations will become addicted to gambling revenues? In the worst-case scenario, might organisations start advocating for gambling, in order to safeguard their incomes? “Our welfare must not be dependent on people's gambling behaviour,” argue researchers.

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End is in sight for Sweden’s gambling monopoly

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 18, 2017 09:31 EET

Sweden plans to open up parts of the gambling market to competition by introducing a licensing system. Researchers remain sceptical about whether it will reduce the amount of gambling advertising or the accessibility of gambling, as some had hoped. Research indicates that the same rule of thumb applies to gambling as it does to alcohol – increased accessibility, results in more problems.

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Increased accessibility leads to greater harm – including when it comes to gambling

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 15, 2017 09:25 EET

The harm that occurs as a result of gambling can be regulated by reducing the accessibility of games, says researcher Ingeborg Rossow, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Nearly 120 experts on gambling assembled in Helsinki to attend The 1st Gambling Policy Conference: Global Prospects, Nordic Perspectives. At one of the sessions, excerpts from the book Setting Limits: Gambling, Science and Public Policy were presented. The book will be published by Oxford University Press, next year.

Ingeborg Rossow is one of the authors. She points to the link between gambling game-related harm and the accessibility of such games.

According to Rossow, the scope of harm caused by gambling games is complex and complicated.

“Excessive gambling can lead to various economic problems. Those who gamble may borrow or embezzle money to pay for their gambling, or may turn to family members’ credit cards or similar sources to fund their habit. In the worst cases, the problem can become so extreme that the gambler must sell his or her home or declare private bankruptcy.

Problem gambling is also linked to criminal behaviour, such as in cases where the gambler embezzles money to pay off his or her gambling debts.”

“A variety of family problems also arise. The individual who has a gambling problem is focused on completely different things than their family and has less time for their children and partner. The partner may even express relief, when it turns out that a gambling problem, and not infidelity, was the reason for the gambler’s absence and lies. Gambling problems can occasionally lead to divorce. Frustration linked to problem gambling may also lead to both verbal and physical aggression.”

Mental health and substance use

Those who play a lot of gambling games often have worse mental health; they are also more likely to use drugs and experience a greater degree of suicide-related problems.

“It’s impossible to know for sure if these issues are caused by gambling problems or by other conditions that may play a role in escalating a person’s gambling habit. It’s very difficult to use observational studies to investigate this question effectively, and that is, of course, the research method we are forced to apply in this field.”

The harm does not just occur on the individual level; it also affects the community at large.

"Society pays a price. Gambling is often discussed as a form of regressive taxation; it’s the poorest people who pay the greatest price, because they’re the ones who gamble the most, and when the gambling profits are used to benefit society, it becomes a vicious spiral. Those in the worst circumstances are hit the hardest.”

The effects interest researchers

In many studies, gambling researchers have based their investigations on the total consumption model. These studies show that there is a correlation between the total amount of gaming within a given population and the number of individuals who gamble very frequently or who have a gambling game problem. Thus, the studies support the theory that the harm caused by gambling games can be regulated by influencing the public’s overall consumption of such games.

What is interesting is to look at what has happened since the policy was changed, in order to see what impact the change has had.

“That’s what is most relevant for policymakers: what is a given society’s experience with having altered policy in one direction or the other. What happens when we increase or decrease gambling game accessibility? When it comes to that question, we don’t have much empirical research we can rely on, and most of the research that does exist, deals with increased accessibility, such as the uptick in availability that occurs when one or two casinos open.” Out of six studies, three of them found that an increase in the number of casinos was associated with more gambling problems. The other three studies were inconclusive.

“In a study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2000, researchers studied what occurred when a national lottery was introduced. The researchers found that the overall amount of money spent on gambling games doubled and that the number of people who gambled skyrocketed to four times the former level.

The Norwegian example

Rossow has also examined the opposite trend: what happens when gambling is regulated?

“In this case, there’s even less empirical evidence. We have only four empirical examples, two from the United States, which banned slot machines for a period of time, as well as one study from Norway and one from Switzerland. The one in Switzerland is difficult to interpret because the number of casinos was expanded in connection with the banning of slot machines.

In Norway, several adjustments were made over a two-year period. Norway wanted to establish a state monopoly on gambling, but due to litigation, it took time to implement.

“In 2006, slot machines became card-only. When cash could no longer be used, the number of individuals who sought help for gambling problems fell, especially among those for whom slot machines were the main problem. We also saw a decrease in the proportion of young people with gambling game problems.

Less aggressive machines

On 1 July 2007 slot machines were banned altogether, and for a year and a half, there were no legal slot machines in Norway. When the monopoly was eventually established, there were less machines and a new type of slot machine was introduced.

"They’re less aggressive. They require a personal gambling card and there is a maximum limit on how much money one can gamble away. Also, you can’t get the profits paid out in cash. The traditional sound and light features on such machines, which is said to be particularly stimulating, have been toned down.

After the slot machines disappeared, there was a decline in the extent of problem gambling and the number of people seeking help. In contrast, internet gambling increased, when the slot machines disappeared.

"But it’s difficult to say if the increase is greater than what would have been seen, if we hadn’t taken away the slot machines.

Research shows that control policy, and in particular major changes to the regulations, may have consequences for gambling, in precisely the same way as they can affect alcohol consumption.

"But policy isn’t the only thing that affects gambling, and if one forbids gambling altogether, a black market will probably emerge. Control policy also has to do with helping consumers to make easier choices. For example, making alcohol more expensive or more difficult to obtain, makes it easier for consumers to buy a little less of it.

Nordens välfärdscenter (NVC) är en institution under Nordiska ministerrådet inom social- och hälsosektorn.

The harm that occurs as a result of gambling can be regulated by reducing the accessibility of games, says researcher Ingeborg Rossow, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

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No rules of the game – mobile gambling’s Wild West

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 14, 2017 14:56 EET

Apps that ding to remind you to top up your account. All it takes is one click; you don’t even need to take out your wallet. You can play anywhere, anytime – in the lunch line, during a boring work meeting – for just a minute or two, or for much longer. This is the new reality because the gambling industry has moved into the smartphone and social media markets.

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“We must put an end to fixed football matches”

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 13, 2017 12:52 EET

Betting is becoming more common within the sports industry. It is estimated that approximately one-seventh of the football industry's earnings originate from betting. Meanwhile, evidence of match fixing is tarnishing the industry's reputation. Professor Daniel Thór Ólason, of the University of Iceland, paints an apocalyptic picture of what could happen if the problem is not addressed.

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Esteettömyydestä yhtä luonnollinen asia kuin tasa-arvosta

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 12, 2017 12:22 EET

​Pohjoismaissa ei jätetä ketään ulkopuolelle, ja esteettömyydestä tulee yhtä luonnollinen asia kuin sukupuolten välisestä tasa-arvosta. Näin uskoo Maria Montefusco, Vammaisalan pohjoismaisen yhteistyöneuvoston projektijohtaja ja sihteeri. Neuvoston tavoitteena on vahvistaa Pohjoismaiden yhteistyötä vammaisia koskevissa asioissa.

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Rahapelaaminen Pohjoismaissa

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 04, 2017 09:28 EET

Pohjoismaat ovat valinneet erilaiset toteutustavat pelipolitiikalleen. Tanskan pelimarkkinat siirtyivät lisenssipohjaiseen järjestelmään vuonna 2012, ja Ruotsissa pelimonopoli todennäköisesti korvataan lisenssijärjestelmällä vuonna 2019. Norjassa pelimonopoli on toistaiseksi vakaa, samoin kuin Suomessa, jossa kolme monopoliyritystä yhdistettiin yhdeksi suureksi toimijaksi vuoden alussa. Islannin järjestelmä on jotain näiden väliltä.

Islannin valtiolla ei ole valtiollista peliyhtiötä. Kaikki pelitoiminta on sen sijaan rajoitettu ei-valtiollisille instituutioille ja hyväntekeväisyysjärjestöille, joilla on lisenssi.

Myös muualla Euroopassa pelimonopolit alkavat olla harvinaisuus. Suomen ja Norjan (ja Ruotsin, mutta siellä tilanne muuttuu lähitulevaisuudessa) lisäksi vain Luxemburgilla on kaikkia rahapelejä koskeva monopoli.

Ruotsissa lisenssittömät peliyhtiöt ovat vallanneet yli 50 prosenttia pelimarkkinoista netissä, mikä on yksi syy siihen, miksi maassa ollaan todennäköisesti siirtymässä lisenssipohjaiseen järjestelmään. Norjassa osuus on paljon pienempi, mutta vaikka norjalaisten pelaajien määrä sääntelemättömillä markkinoilla ei kasva, he kuluttavat rahaa aiempaa enemmän.

Rahapelimonopoli Pohjoismaissa

Pohjoismaiden asukkaista 60–80 prosenttia sanoo pelanneensa jonkinlaista rahapeliä vähintään kerran viimeksi kuluneiden 12 kuukauden aikana. Suomalaiset ovat jopa kansainvälisessä vertailussa innokasta pelikansaa. Vuonna 2015 heistä 80 prosenttia oli pelannut vähintään kerran viimeksi kuluneen vuoden aikana.

Rahapelaaminen Pohjoismaissa

Lotto ja erilaiset arpajaiset ovat suosituimmat pelit Pohjoismaissa. Suomessa erityisen suosittuja ovat peliautomaatit, joita voi pelata esimerkiksi ruokakaupoissa ja huoltoasemilla.

Pelimuodot Pohjoismaissa

Tanskassa pelimonopolin kumoaminen perusteltiin muun muassa sillä, että kuluttajia haluttiin suojella laittomalta pelimarkkinalta, joka oli syntynyt verkossa olevien pelien myötä. Muutoksen jälkeen tehdyt tilastot osoittavat, että peliongelmaisia on hieman enemmän, mutta kuluttajien peleihin käyttämä rahasumma on pysynyt ennallaan.

Pohjoismaissa peliriippuvuutta huomioidaan yhä enemmän. Ruotsissa muutetaan esimerkiksi sosiaalipalvelulakia vuoden vaihteessa niin, että kunnat työskentelevät jatkossa peliriippuvuuden kanssa samalla tavalla kuin alkoholi- ja huumeriippuvuuden kanssa.

Pohjoismaisista pelaajista 2–3 prosentilla on peliongelma; joko niin, että he ovat riskipelaajia tai että heillä on peliriippuvuus.

Peliongelmaiset Pohjoismaissa

Lähteet: Islannin yliopisto, Spillemyndigheden, Det Nationale Forskningscenter for Velfærd, Lotteriinspektionen, Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos, Bergenin yliopisto.

Pohjoismainen hyvinvointikeskus järjesti kansainvälisen konferenssin rahapelaamisesta Helsingissä 6.7. marraskuuta 2017:
1st Gambling Policy Conference: Global Prospects, Nordic Perspectives

Nordens välfärdscenter (NVC) är en institution under Nordiska ministerrådet inom social- och hälsosektorn.

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Gambling in the Nordic countries

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 04, 2017 09:25 EET

The Nordic countries have taken different routes in their gambling policies. Denmark opted for a licence-based system for the gambling market in 2012, while Sweden will probably replace its gambling monopoly system with a licensing system as of 2019. In Norway the gambling monopoly has been strong up to now, as has been the case in Finland where three monopoly operators were merged into one big monopoly company at the start of this year. Iceland has a system that lies somewhere in between.

Iceland has no state gambling operator. Instead, all gambling activities are restricted to non-state institutions and charity organisations with a licence.

There are now also few gambling monopolies in the European context. Apart from Finland and Norway (and Sweden, although the situation there will change in the near future), only Luxembourg has a monopoly on all gambling.

In Sweden gambling companies without a licence have taken over more than 50 per cent of the internet gambling market, and this is one of the reasons why the country wants to switch to a licence-based system. In Norway the proportion is much smaller, but although Norwegian gamblers are not increasing in number on the unregulated market they are spending more money than before.

Gambling monopoly in the Nordic countries

Between 60 and 80 per cent of Nordic citizens state that they have engaged in gambling of some kind at least once over a 12-month period. The Finns are a nation of keen gamblers judged by international standards as well. In 2015 no less than 80 per cent had engaged in gambling at least once during the past year.

Amount of people gambling in the Nordic countries

Lotto and other lotteries are the most popular games in the Nordic countries. In Finland slot machines, which are available in places such as supermarkets and petrol stations, are especially popular.

Forms of gambling in the Nordic countries

In Denmark one of the reasons for the dismantling of its gambling monopoly system was the desire to protect consumers from the illegal gambling market that had been created in conjunction with online gambling. Statistics show that after this change a slightly larger proportion suffer from gambling problems but that the proportion of money spent by consumers on gambling is the same.

There is an increasing focus on gambling abuse in the Nordic countries. In Sweden, for instance, the Social Services Act is being amended as of the start of next year so that the social welfare committees at municipal level will address gambling abuse in the same way that they do alcohol and drug addiction.

Between two and three per cent of Nordic citizens who engage in gambling have gambling problems: either gambling behaviour involving risk or gambling abuse.

Problem gamblers in the Nordic countries

Sources: University of Iceland, The Danish Gambling Authority, The Danish National Centre for Social Research, the Swedish Gambling Authority, The National Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Bergen.

The Nordic Welfare Centre arranged an international conference on gambling in Helsinki on 6-7 November 2017:
1st Gambling Policy Conference: Global Prospects, Nordic Perspectives

Nordens välfärdscenter (NVC) är en institution under Nordiska ministerrådet inom social- och hälsosektorn.

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New light on the Nordic paradox

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Joulu 01, 2017 13:15 EET

The Nordic welfare model is strongly connected to the concept of equality. The fact that inequalities in health are larger in the Nordic countries than in many countries with less developed welfare systems has therefore puzzled researchers as well as politicians and policy makers.

Professor Johan Mackenbach, public health researcher from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, has coined the term “the Nordic paradox” to describe this situation. However, Mackenbach thinks that his research has sometimes been misinterpreted: The Nordic welfare model does reduce health inequalities, and without the generous welfare system the gaps in health would have been even bigger, he says.

The Nordic welfare system has been a role model for tackling health inequalities among many public health researchers. That health inequalities are not smaller than elsewhere, and that gaps in health by socio-economic position have substantially widened over time, has been a disappointment and raised some doubts about the effectiveness of the Nordic model. But Johan Mackenbach says that the results of his research must be interpreted carefully.

– It´s clear that the Nordic welfare systems reduces inequalities in income and other material factors, and that this makes health inequalities smaller than they would otherwise have been. This probably also explains why inequality in health is more strongly related to education than to income in the Nordic countries, says Mackenbach.

The role of alcohol and tobacco

However, there are other factors that generate large health inequalities in the Nordic countries, despite their well-developed welfare systems, according to Mackenbach. Most prominent among these factors are smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, for which inequalities between socioeconomic groups are very large.

Mackenbach notes that there, however, is an interesting exception from the general picture. Swedish men seem to be protected from the Nordic paradox: socioeconomic inequalities in mortality among Swedish men are smaller than in the other Nordic countries, and also than in many other Western European countries. One possible explanation, says Mackenbach, is the more extensive use of snus than cigarettes among Swedish men with low education.

Absolute and relative inequality

One aspect, which also needs to be considered in this discussion, is that the widening of the gap in death rates, as seen in the Nordic countries, is generally the result of a difference between socio-economic groups in the speed of mortality decline, explains Mackenbach. While mortality declines in all socio-economic groups, the decline has been proportionally faster in the higher socio-economic groups than in the lower. Because the Nordic countries are often ahead of other Western European countries in reducing mortality, this also explains part of the Nordic paradox.

Read the whole interview with professor Johan Mackenbach!

Nordens välfärdscenter (NVC) är en institution under Nordiska ministerrådet inom social- och hälsosektorn.

The Nordic welfare model is strongly connected to the concept of equality. The fact that inequalities in health are larger in the Nordic countries than in many countries with less developed welfare systems has therefore puzzled researchers as well as politicians and policy makers. Professor Johan Mackenbach has coined the term “the Nordic paradox” to describe this situation.

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”Välfärden får inte bli beroende av problemspelare”

Lehdistötiedotteet   •   Marras 30, 2017 08:41 EET

I de flesta samhällen styrs vinsten från spelindustrin till allmännyttiga ändamål. Men hur stor är risken att ideella föreningar och organisationer blir beroende av spelintäkter? Kan organisationerna i värsta fall börja förespråka spelande för att trygga sina inkomster? – Vår välfärd får inte bli beroende av folks spelbeteende, säger forskare i en intervju för webbplatsen PopNAD.com.

Alla sätt att kanalisera spelintäkter till civilsamhället innebär olika risker, men det finns knappt med forskning om vilka följderna kan vara. Forskartrion Michael Egerer, Veera Kankainen och Matilda Hellman vid Centret för forskning i beroenden, kontroll och styre (CEACG) vid Helsingfors universitet har försökt råda bot på det här.

De har intervjuat drygt 13 representanter för olika samhälleliga organisationer i Finland om hur de ser på finansieringssystemet och finansiärernas roll. Organisationerna är verksamma inom bland annat välfärd, ungdomsarbete och idrott.

– Organisationerna verkar inte vara medvetna om hur mycket problem spelandet kan leda till. De gjorde till exempel ingen skillnad mellan att ta emot pengar från de mer skadliga spelautomaterna, än från andra spel, säger Michael Egerer, doktor i samhällsvetenskap.

Helgar ändamålen medlen?

Penningspelandet är en stor inkomstkälla för den finska staten. Med hjälp av spelintäkterna finansieras en stor del av verksamheten inom idrott, kultur, vetenskap och social välfärd. Ett vanligt sätt att berättiga det statliga spelmonopolet är att hänvisa till att pengarna går till ett gott ändamål, och att man har större kontroll över riskerna. Men frågan är i hur stor utsträckning ändamålen helgar medlen.

Finländarna förlorar omkring två miljarder euro om året på spelbolaget Veikkaus olika spel. Forskning visar att en märkbar del av de här pengarna härstammar från en liten grupp personer. Den här lilla gruppen består till stor del av fattiga personer samt psykiskt eller fysiskt sjuka personer som också lider av andra beroenden. Det säger sociologiprofessorn Pekka Sulkunen vid Helsingfors universitet till den finska dagstidningen Helsingin Sanomat.

Enligt honom är spelautomaterna de värsta bovarna, eftersom de finns på vardagliga platser så som butiker och kiosker, och därför är så gott som omöjliga att undvika. I Finland finns uppskattningsvis omkring 100 000 personer med spelproblem.

Nu har man också på ministerhåll fått upp ögonen för problematiken kring spelautomaterna. Social- och hälsovårdsminister Pirkko Mattila (Blå) och inrikesminister Paula Risikko (Saml) är överens om att det behövs nya åtgärder för att råda bot på spelproblemen. Ministrarna föreslår till exempel att man skulle stifta striktare lagar om var spelautomaterna får placeras. Som det är nu är enbart antalet spelautomater begränsat i lag.

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Nordens välfärdscenter (NVC) är en institution under Nordiska ministerrådet inom social- och hälsosektorn.

I de flesta samhällen styrs vinsten från spelindustrin till allmännyttiga ändamål. Men hur stor är risken att ideella föreningar och organisationer blir beroende av spelintäkter? Kan organisationerna i värsta fall börja förespråka spelande för att trygga sina inkomster? – Vår välfärd får inte bli beroende av folks spelbeteende, säger forskare i en intervju för webbplatsen PopNAD.com.

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