Regulatory change and cultural peculiarity - horse people and the new gambling monopoly in Finland
Pauliina Raento works part-time as a Senior Researcher at the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (CoE GameCult) at Tampere University. Her presentation is related to her research project The Horse in Finland, funded by the Kone Foundation in 2014–2018.
Finland's three gambling monopoly operators merged into one state-owned entity in 2017. A particular challenge to the process came from its smallest constituent, the tote company Fintoto, its owner, the national Trotting and Horse Breeding Association Suomen Hippos, and the equine industry’s cultural peculiarity.
The process is examined from the perspective of the equine industry, which had to choose between joining and not joining the merger. The exchanges between 'horse people' and state regulators, the equine industry’s resistance and decision to participate in the merger, and concerns about impact are traced from Finland's leading equine newspaper Hevosurheilu, in 2014–2016. The articles are triangulated with documents produced by state and equine organizations, material from other media sources, and ethnography.
The qualitative assessment shows how cultural peculiarity challenges national regulatory processes and causes internal divisions among affected groups. The discussion demonstrates why communication is a critical success factor in regulatory transitions and impact management, and how general trends in society may intervene.
The findings suggest that ignorance of cultural peculiarity in regulatory processes can generate unnecessary economic, political, and socio-cultural costs. The findings therefore stress the importance of understanding culture, history, and geographical scale in the study and management of regulatory change. The investigation also demonstrates the value of systematic documentation and long-term qualitative view in assessing gambling-related impact.
Keywords: regulatory change, impact, monopoly, pari-mutuels, horse betting, wagering, gambling, horse racing, trotter racing, equine industry, Finland, qualitative research