Finnish Problem Gamblers, Socio-Economic Status and the Welfare State: a Qualitative Research on Problem Gamblers and Social and Economic Factors


  • Maria Heiskanen University of Helsinki, Finland


People from different socio-economic backgrounds suffer from gambling problems. However, it has been assessed that population groups with, for example, lower income and shorter education experience more often than others problems caused by excessive gambling. The nature and seriousness of gambling problems vary, and in this presentation, problem gambling is studied from the viewpoint of education, occupation and personal financial livelihood. Also, as Finland has a wide social security, it is also studied how problem gamblers differ from each other in using the social services.

In this research, I will study the nature of gambling problems and the using of social security of 17 interviewed problem gamblers. Are there differences in the emergence and nature of gambling problems based on the disposable income or societal status? How are the socio-economic variables connected with gambling problems? For example, people with less money in their use do not necessarily run into so deep debts as may people with higher incomes, as the latter may have an easier access on getting loans. Also I will ask, what kind of social or financial help problem gamblers have needed from the society?

The data consists of semi-structured interviews of problem gamblers conducted in Finland. The research is qualitative and strives for deeper understanding of the nature of gambling problems in different kind of situations. The perspective derives from social sciences, and the presentation is a part of a PhD dissertation work in progress.