Raising the legal gambling age in Finland: problem gambling prevalence rates in different age groups among past-year gamblers pre- and post-implementation

Abstract

This article reports on the frequency of problem gambling, measured with the Lie/Bet instrument, in different age groups among Finnish past-year gamblers in 2011 (n = 2984) and 2014 (n = 2326). The data highlights the situation before, and three years after, the implementation of a raised minimum age limit for gambling from 15 to 18 years.

The difference in problem gambling frequency when comparing all age groups was statistically significant in 2011, but not in 2014. A significantly lower frequency of problem gambling was found among 18–19-year-olds in 2014 (3.4%), compared to 2011 (16.3%). The results regarding problem gambling prevalence among 15–17-year-olds (8.0% in 2011, 0.0% in 2014) are somewhat inconclusive as the number of respondents fulfilling the criteria for problem gambling was zero in 2014, thus affecting the analysis. No statistically significant difference in problem gambling frequency was found among 20–21-year-olds (a group less affected by the policy implementation) – or other older age groups – between the survey years.

While the findings should be viewed with caution, they do support recommendations regarding a minimum gambling age of 18 years or higher as an effective harm-minimization measure.

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