New CEACG report: Offshore gambling operators attract Finnish consumers

Picture credit: Elias Wulff










Several offshore gambling companies have taken interest in Finland as a possible market area thus challenging the local gambling monopoly system. According to a new CEACG report, some of the brands have made significant efforts to create an image of cultural and even geographical closeness on social media and on their websites.

Finland has a strong and relatively old gambling monopoly system that restricts gambling supply in the mainland. However, the increase of internet users and possibilities to gamble online have changed the gambling markets.

The main finding of the report is that there are several ways for the offshore gambling operators to target their messages and to interact with Finns on social media. While most foreign operators do not invest in tempting Finnish consumers particularly, some seek to actively interact with the Finnish audience and integrate themselves into various arenas of discussion.

Social media enables interaction with several target groups

Many of the studied operators had succeeded in interacting with Finns on social media and their posts regularly gained reactions and visibility among users. The brands mainly focused on sports and sports betting on their accounts, and they sought to create interaction with the sporting world. Two of the studied operators aimed to gain attention by regularly organizing social media price draws for users. Their contents were not gambling-related: one of these two brands veiled gambling by posting about travelling and wellbeing, the other by using humorous contents. In that way, they could gain attention that was not directly related to gambling.

“It was not always easy for the viewer to distinguish the posts as gambling marketing”, says the writer, CEACG-researcher Vilja Männistö.

Gambling brands seek to create positive images of localness to attract customers

The studied brands appealed to Finnish consumers by offering and marketing a targeted sports betting supply (e.g. Finnish football series) and by using national symbols such as Finnish flags both on social media and on the companies’ websites. Draw prizes were in most cases clearly targeted to Finns – for example, participants were awarded with gift cards to restaurants in Helsinki. Some brands mentioned about their customer events in Finland.

Four of the studied brands took their marketing even further to address a Finnish audience. They had podcasts and video series that were produced in Finland and included for example interviews with well-known Finnish athletes and other celebrities. Several celebrities played a key role in the content production. Through the celebrities, the brands were able to speak to specific groups (e.g. people interested in certain type of sports).

With the image of local action and by utilizing Finnish celebrities, offshore gambling operators advance their efforts to attract consumers. Especially the presence of widely known celebrities undoubtedly promotes trust towards offshore gambling companies among users.

The report focuses on nine offshore gambling operators registered in Malta, which provide their websites and at least one social media account in Finnish on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or YouTube. Thus far, little research has been conducted on illegal gambling marketing and the companies’ activities in Finland.

Funding and other information

The report is funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland. It is a part of a Lotteries Act section 52 -research entity. The author of the report is a recently graduated social scientist who works as a research assistant in CEACG. She is involved in the Online Marketing of Gambling project that studies the activities of lawful Finnish and Swedish gambling operators on social media. The report complements the entity by investigating offshore gambling operators’ activities on Finnish social media.

The full report is available in Finnish and it includes an English-language abstract.

Männistö, V. (2021). Rahapeliyhtiöt verkossa: miten kansainväliset rahapelisivustot puhuttelevat suomalaisia. Valtiotieteellisen tiedekunnan julkaisuja, 187. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto.

Press release published by University of Helsinki  (21st May 2021, in Finnish).

For more information on the report, please contact the author:
phone: +358 29 412 4868 / +358 50 464 8271