Ex-minister: Gambling passion was online betting, not frequenting casinos

Tõnis Mölder at Wednesday's press conference.
Tõnis Mölder at Wednesday's press conference. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Tonis Molder, who resigned as Estonia's minister of the environment on Wednesday, announced in a social media post on Friday that he is not a frequenter of casinos as claimed in the media, but instead had a passion for betting on sporting results, one which is now under control having sought professional intervention at the start of this week.

In a social media post he put up on Friday afternoon, Mölder, whose resignation was first reported Tuesday evening and became fact the next day, said: "On Wednesday, I informed the public that I was resigning as minister for health and family reasons. It was extraordinarily difficult for me, but it was the right move. It was my personal decision.

Molder said that he has been inside a bricks-and-mortar casino a total of five times in his life, BNS reports.

"Therefore, the statement is not true," he said, referring to media reports that he was a casino regular.

However, Mölder went on to say that he had regularly engaged in sports betting online.

"Just to make things clear, I will say this: I have really enjoyed going to portals where you can predict the results of sporting events," he continued, referring to it as a passion.

"Sports betting portals are just a mouse-click away. Without me noticing it, these portals had become an exciting pastime for me and, above all, a way of relieving work-related tension," the ex-minister continued, and denied reports that he had run up debts due to the problem.

"As for the allegations made in the media that I have fallen into debt, fortunately this is not the case. I have used personal resources to make bets. However, this does not in any way diminish the nature of the problem."

"Why did it happen? Maybe it's because my whole career has been going upwards at a pace I could never imagine. Too fast and too high. When stress and health problems arose, I didn't know how to draw the right conclusions at the right time, much less seek help. I helped myself by placing bets on a sports portal," he continued. 

Mölder also said his physical health problems worsened to the point that he had to see a doctor.

"This was perhaps one of the first moments when reality began to set in. My work affects my health," he continued, and said that he initiated a self-imposed gambling ban, possible within the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) online environment, and on the same day made an appointment with a psychologist, a watershed moment which he called a new beginning.

Mölder said he was grateful to the support of his spouse and family, and also for that of the public, adding that he will continue as an MP for the meantime, but would not be putting career over family and health.

He also issued his apologies and expressed a desire that the Estonian people would one day forgive him.

Mölder became minister when the Reform/Center coalition entered office in late January, represented Estonia in person at the recent COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and was replaced by Erki Savisaar on the same day he announced his resignation formally.

The MTA has a list of sites which can be legally gambled with inside Estonian territory. Users accessing other sites within the country will be met with a blocking message.

Editor's note: In Tõnis Mölder's original social media post, he requested that the post be run in its entirety, unabridged. The above is BNS' translation of most of the key quotes from the post and a summation of the remainder. Mölder also noted that he was addressing the Estonian nation, in his post, which is embedded above in its original Estonian.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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