Information about public gambling attitudes and gambling participation is crucial for the effective prevention of gambling-related harm. This study investigates female and male attitudes towards gambling, gambling participation, and gambling-related harm in the Finnish population aged 15–74.
Cross-sectional random sample data were collected in 2011 (n = 4484) and 2015 (n = 4515). The data were weighted based on gender, age and region of residence. Attitudes were measured using the Attitudes Towards Gambling Scale (ATGS-8). Gambling-related harms were studied using the Problem Gambling Severity Index and the South Oaks Gambling Screen.
Attitudes towards gambling became more positive from 2011 to 2015. Female attitudes were generally negative, but nonetheless moved in a positive direction except in age groups under 25. Occasional gambling increased among women aged 18–24. Women aged 18–24 and 45–54 experienced more harms in 2015 than in 2011. Both land and online gambling increased among women aged 65–74. Male attitudes towards gambling were generally positive, and became more positive from 2011 to 2015 in all age groups except 15–17. Weekly gambling decreased among males aged 15–17. Gambling overall increased among males aged 18–24. Gambling several times a week decreased among men aged 35–44 and 45–54, and gambling 1–3 times a month increased in the latter age group. Online gambling increased only among men aged 55–64.
Attitudes towards gambling became more positive in all except the youngest age groups. Under-age male gambling continued to decrease. We need to make decision-makers better aware of the continuing growth of online gambling among older people and women’s increasing experiences of gambling-related harm. This is vital to ensure more effective prevention.