What is special about gambling? A comparison of public discourse on Finnish state monopolies in rail traffic, gambling, and alcohol
Finland has one of the last fully monopolistic gambling sectors in Europe. Unlike in most Western European countries, the monopoly is also consolidated and enjoys a wide support as opposed to license-based competition. This paper analyses whether this preference for monopoly provision is due to the particularities of the Finnish society or rather to those of the Finnish gambling sector. We do this by comparing public discourses in media texts (N=143) from 2014 to 2017 regarding monopolies operating in alcohol retail, rail traffic and gambling sectors. The results show that gambling appears to be special even in the Finnish national context. While the Finnish alcohol retail and railroad traffic markets have been liberalised during the study period, the gambling monopoly has been concurrently strengthened despite similar political and international pressures towards dismantling. The discussion suggests that the differing outcomes reflect the varying positions of monopolies, their stakeholders and the justifications put forward. Intertwined stakeholder interests in the gambling sector appear to amplify consensus politics and set gambling apart from the other cases.
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