People in disadvantaged areas lose huge money to slot machines

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People in disadvantaged areas lose huge money to slot machines

People lose the greatest amount of money to slot machines in areas where disadvantage is prevalent, said a study commissioned by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL).

The availability of slot machines or, the number of slot machines in relation to the number of residents, is also the highest in the most disadvantaged postal code areas, even though the number of slot machines has decreased significantly overall, said the THL in a press release on Friday referring to the study.

In the study, disadvantage refers to the low- income level in the area, a high proportion of residents who have only completed basic education and a high unemployment rate.

The study data dates back to 2022, when the total number of slot machines in mainland Finland was about 12,000.

The number of slot machines had decreased by as much as 10,000 since the previous study carried out in 2018–2019.

The losses per inhabitant are the greatest in residential areas where disadvantage is prevalent and there are many machines. The low income and education level of inhabitants are most strongly linked to the availability of slot machines.

“This can he considered a kind of a vicious circle. The more disadvantaged the residential area is, the more people spend on slot machines and the greater the number of slot machines. Losing money increases inequalities and the risk of gambling hazards even more,” said Senior Researcher of THL Jani Selin.

“The number of slot machines has decreased considerably as a result of compulsory identification and the pandemic. Back then, stores, for example, removed them from their premises. Still, there are more machines available in disadvantaged residential areas,” Selin added.

According to the Lotteries Act, the placement of the machines must be planned in such a way that the negative effects of gambling are minimised.

Finland uses a scattered model for slot machines; they have been placed in everyday environments, such as stores, service stations and kiosks. There are also some machines in separate game arcades.

“The wording of the Lotteries Act on minimising harms is not realised in the light of our research, even though the placement of slot machines has been discussed for years,” said Research Manager of THL Susanna Raisamo.

The government Programme states that transferring slot machines to separate premises will be investigated.

This need for investigation has also been mentioned in the decision to set up an ongoing slot machine system project.

According to THL researchers, stricter regulation of the placement of slot machines is justified to reduce gambling hazards and regional inequalities.

“As long as the placement of slot machines is not regulated, the solutions will be made independently by the game company and based on commercial criteria, meaning that they will concentrate in vulnerable residential areas,” Raisamo said.

The study combined Statistics Finland’s regional population data and accurate consumption data on slot machines. The results are unique in the world.

“As far as we know, this is the first study based on accurate data on residents’ game consumption using the slot machines in their area,” Selin said.


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