To bet or not to bet?

In the spirit of my predictions, I’ve decided to place a few bets on the games this weekend. Finns will know all about the match fixing scandal involving Allianssi and a Chinese-Belgian coalition of gamblers and coaches. And the scandal is probably one of the only things that non-Finns know about Finnish football.

Now in that case, the Chinese guys were betting in the far east and the Belgian coach made sure his team did what was required. Betting in Finland is run by a monopoly, just as selling alcohol is. But the betting takes place in newsagents and bars, not in the single use-only betting shops where British gamblers congregate.

The range of sports to bet on is OK, but I can’t be the only Brit to be disappointed with the horse racing they have here. Trotting is like chariot racing without the weaponry, like horse racing without the excitement. I know the Grand National isn’t great for animal welfare, but if you were a horse would you rather meet your end at Becher’s Brook or in a sausage factory?

Anyway, back to football. The odds are sometimes a little strange, and not just because they’re always decimal. For instance Tampere United are 1.70 to win tomorrow at VPS, who beat them home and away last year. The draw is 3.35 and a VPS win is a mighty 4.00. Very tempting when you consider that Tampere will probably be without Kaven, Kuoppala, Wiss and Niemi. Not that i think they’ll lose, just that they’re underpriced-if I was to bet impartially on this match it would be on VPS or the draw.

I’ve had a little look at Ladbrokes’ odds for the coming round of games (isn’t globalisation wonderful?), and for every match there is a difference in one of the odds, always in favour of the customer.

I can’t help thinking this is another nice little cashcow for the Finnish state, just like Alko. There has been a lot of propaganda about raising alcohol taxes recently, because last time they were cut there was a big rise in alcohol related health problems. The fact that they reduced the taxes on hard liquor (made in Finland) rather than beer (foreign muck) apparently had nothing to do with it.

Once again, the Finnish consumer gets a raw deal. And people will accept it, because gamblers and alcoholics are scum, aren’t they?

I don’t know what the law says about gambling on the internet in Finland so I hesitate to advocate it. But anybody thinking about betting on football here should check out Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral, Paddy Power or any number of other sites to see what a great deal foreign gamblers get in comparison.

8 Responses

  1. When the alcohol tax was lowered a few years ago the consumption went up. Now that they’ve managed to get more and more people hooked on booze they’ll just hoist the taxes back up again and watch the cash flow in.

    Never mind the health problems alcohol can cause when overused – it’s all funded by the boozehounds themselves.

  2. Since when has beer in Finland been foreign? According to Panimoliitto (Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry), in 2005 the foreign imports were just below 33 million liters, whereas the domestic production was over 425 million liters.

    http://www.panimoliitto.fi/panimoliitto/tilastot/tuonti_ja_vienti_1997_2005.pdf
    http://www.panimoliitto.fi/panimoliitto/liitetiedostot/pdf/kotimaan_myynti_1980_2006.pdf

    Anyway, the higher the tax on alcohol, the better it is for people who drink alcohol in moderation. For it is them who end up paying the price of taking care all of the health problems created by cheap alcohol.

  3. If beer was indigenous to Finland, you would hopefully have managed to produce some better versions of it. Multinationals can build their plants wherever they like, but the monotonous gunk they spew out brings profits(and tax revenues) to distant lands, not Finland.

    Whereas the protectionist policies of the Finnish government towards it’s Vodka industry are well known, including their attempted export to the EU.

    Whatever your view on the total size of alcohol taxation, you cannot be saying that it was right to heavily reduce taxes on kossu rather than concentrating on less harmful drinks?

    And I think if we were to look at alcohol taxes on a european scale, the high level of taxation wouldn’t indicate a nation of healthy livers, with low tax regimes being punished with health problems.

    How did Finland reduce it’s heart disease problem? Is there a massive tax on lard? Is hesburger a government monopoly?

  4. The tax on hard liqueur was lowered the most because it was (and has always been) the highest of all types of alcohol.

  5. You may have better knowledge of the subject than me, but I was under the impression that the Finnish government didn’t usually reduce taxes simply because they were high?

    Like I said before, Finland reduced mortality and healthcare costs by executing an imaginative and proactive education campaign against heart disease. They didn’t tax fat and make burgers and kebabs a national monopoly.

    If you want to do these things for health reasons, there are many better ways to do it. It’s madness that I can’t buy wine from my local supermarket. And I had never in my life seen a ten-pack of vodka bottles before I came to Finland.

    But then it all raises revenue for the government….

  6. Well, this time they lowered taxes because they were high and the government wanted people to buy their alcohol from Finland instead of Estonia. Of course they’d tax more if they could..

  7. Go on Egan, you’re my hero!
    Living in a country where the very concept of liberalism is absolutely unknown (or discredited, when known) is sometimes very difficult…

    When talking about this issue, somebody justified alcohol taxation telling me that it’s necessary because finnish mentality works this way: they need a set of strict rules to prevent them from crossing the line, to keep them in control and secure, otherwise they can’t manage by themseves to solve such problems.

    This person didn’t even realize what lies behind such an idea!

    Infact, this opinion reminded me a definition of dictatorship I read some time ago: a system in which a sort of Mother-State thinks for you, sanctions you, forcing you to remain a permanent adolescent, never able to grow up and become fully indipendent.

    Of course this is a free country, it’s a democracy, that is unquestionable.

    But as you can see some people here tend to believe that in such cases it’s not an “imaginative and proactive education campaign” they need, but an iron hand…

  8. Thanks simo, glad you like it.

    I am cnstantly amazed by the Finnish attitude to alcohol. If a love of alcohol is innate to Finns and they need a tax system that regulates this, then maybe they’d have realised that the one they have isn’t working too well.

    On the other hand it could be that the Finnish relationship with alcohol is learned behaviour, from a combination of Nordic protestant prohibition and high alcohol taxes. I’d say it was the latter, and that they need something other than price controls to deal with it.

    I mean, if expensive alcohol stopped people from becoming alcoholics, then all the alcoholics would be rich, right? I don’t want to guess at the income of the fine upstanding citizens that congregate outside Antilla in Tampere, but I’d be astonished if it was more than mine (which isn’t very high).

    Like I said before-Finland’s health education campaigns are a model for developed countries, and their heart disease programmes are the envy of obese nations like mine. It also disproves the notion that Finns respond better to coercion than persuasion.

    It’s perfectly obvious why they haven’t achieved the same in relation to alcohol. Vested interests.

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