I spent most of last week in Helsinki together with gambling scholars. In Finland, social science research on gambling is vigorous and more extensive than in the other Nordic countries. This is to a great extent thanks to the Finnish Foundation for Gaming Research and its director Pauliina Raento. The foundation funds gambling research and through various activities stimulates, facilitates and coordinates such research. Talented researchers are thereby inspired to study gambling.
At my first evening in Helsinki, I attended a reception held by the Foundation. In the premises there was a fascinating collection of gambling machines, historical photos of gaming events, and lottery advertising from the past (as in the picture to the right). Gambling researchers from Finland mingled and tried their luck on a Pajazzo gambling machine.
Next day the University of Helsinki Network for European Studies held a seminar on the theme “Gambling: Global and European Perspectives”. I held a speech about “Global gambling in an anthropological perspective”. Jenny Cisneros Örnberg from SoRAD, University of Stockholm, talked about the political framing of gambling problems in the context of gambling regulation and policy development. Nele Hoekx from the University of Leuven and Natalia Zborowska, from the University of Amsterdam, presented on the regulation of online gambling and emerging transnational self-regulatory networks in the EU, respectively.
I spent part of the evening at the Casino Helsinki (formerly the “Gran Casino Helsinki”, have they cut down on the ambitions?). I had not been there for a while and just wished to take a look (and play some slots). Not much action, but it was a weekday evening.
On Thursday, the Finnish Society for Consumer Research held a seminar. A price was given to this year’s best thesis in consumer studies. I had been invited to speak about “Why people gamble: An anthropological understanding of gambling consumers”. Pauliina Raento, Minna Ruckenstein and Riitta Maitilainen were discussants.
A very nice trip with many interesting discussions!