innovation diffusion, learning, gambling culture, sports betting, qualitative research, Finland
Original Research Article
How did people learn to bet on sports and how did a sports betting culture develop in Finland? How has this setting evolved over space and time? The answers contribute to the growing understanding of learning, socialization, and contextualization in the study of gambling and may inspire service providers, regulators, and harm preventers alike. We argue that broad structural patterns and micro-cultural processes should be investigated jointly and qualitative information should complement quantitative monitoring of human behavior. We approach the spread of sports betting to, and within Finland, from the perspective of innovation diffusion. We rely on this theory’s space- and culture-sensitive application in sports geography and public health research and, by doing so, expand knowledge about innovation diffusion in gambling studies. We triangulate diverse data, including Finnish-language betting manuals and online instruction sites, newspaper and magazine articles, and statistical and survey materials. We find that the early development of Finnish sports betting matches the spatio-cultural innovation diffusion theory but new challenges have emerged in the online era. Our method and findings contribute to the study of sports betting, space- and time-sensitive gambling research, and qualitative understanding of developments in particular jurisdictions, markets, and campaigns.