New seminar series on the Tampere casino: I. Measuring the economic impact and social costs

Thursday, 16th of June, the TRESINO-GROUP* started its seminar series with the topic Measuring the economic impact and social costs of the Tampere casino.

Casino impact studies have been so far mainly conducted in Canada and the US. The casinos studied there were big scale destination style casinos. The casino that opened at the end of last year in Tampere, is a small-scale urban casino instead. Lessons learned from previous studies can thus hardly be inferred to the case of Tampere. Besides the different size, the Finnish nationwide monopolistic provision of casino gambling adds a further caveat to the extrapolation of previous economic experiences with casinos. The gambling revenue in Finland is distributed centrally and does not stay where the gambling happens, as in many other jurisdictions.

The seminar looked at the techniques and methods to study the economic costs and benefits of gambling and discussed how these could be adjusted to the Finnish context and the case of the new casino in Tampere.

Docent in Social Policy Johanna Järvinen-Tassopoulos from the National Centre for Health and Welfare (THL) scrutinised the casino as a space of gambling from a socio-cultural vantage point and discussed the implications of an ‘arena style’ casino.

Senior Specialist Marke Jääskeläinen (also THL), demonstrated what studying the direct and indirect costs of alcohol and drug might teach us for calculating the impact of the Tampere casino and pointed out the challenges of measuring indirect and intangible costs.

Dr Jessika Spångberg and Dr Ulla Romild from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, told about the Swedish experiences with calculating the social costs of problem gambling. They also revisited a Swedish casino impact study, which holds important lessons for studying casinos in the Nordics.

Expert in economic forecasting, Doctoral researcher Wilma Nissilä, University of Turku, introduced the possible sources, the data collection and use of economic figures in Finland. She pointed out that many datasets are in fact easily available and free in Finland, but they might be published with considerable delay.

Doctoral researcher Tomi Roukka University of Turku and THL, gave an account of his dissertation work, where he studies how gambling revenue in Finland is created and distributed regionally. He showed that lower-income individuals and the ones living in rural areas contribute proportionally more than what they benefit.

The discussions during the seminar and the insights given by the speakers will certainly help advancing present and future studies on the new casino in Tampere. The TRESINO seminar series will continue with the topic of social harm and public order – so stay tuned.

*The TRESINO-GROUP is a network to pool expertise, data and studies on the new casino in Tampere. It cooperates in studying the new Tampere casino in the dimensions of politics, gambling, economy, as well as social harm and public order. The TRESINO-GROUP is coordinated by Dr. Michael Egerer, CEACG/University of Helsinki.