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Proposed reforms make future of Finland’s gaming monopoly unclear

Posted: Jan 04, 2023 15:24 Category: Europe , Online , Regulatory , Posted by Lea Hogg

Finland is to abolish its gambling monopoly and adopt a multi-licence gambling system.  A new model is being considered by the Finnish government with plans to discontinue the current gaming monopoly. The new reforms may be in place by 2025. 

In an interview with Finnish media house MTV Uutisten, Minister of European affairs Tytti Tuppurainen announced that discussions to implement a licence regime were taking place with state—owned gambling agency Veikkaus.  

Accordingly Minister Tuppurainen added that the significant reforms in the gambling legislation require extensive research. In less than three months, on 2 April, Finland will elect a new parliament and Tupperainen has commissioned a study to be completed as soon as possible. This will identify the advantages of ending Veikkaus´ monopoly with a view to introduce gambling regulations which will also protect players.  

The government and opposition are in favour of the new reforms

The outcome of the study will enable a newly elected government to roll out the process and transition to a licensing system in the new legislature.  The government`s proposed gambling industry reforms are being championed by all the Finnish political parties in the opposition including the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) which is the strongest polling party.  

The reforms will not impact land-based casinos and national lotteries.

Background

Finland has a unique position and operates a gambling monopoly with state-owned Veikkaus. The government-owned gambling agency has strict deposit limits as opposed to other operators that are unregulated. A key point is that Veikkaus at a disadvantage.

Veikkaus was established in 2017 with the merger of Fintoto, RAY (Finland’s slot machine association) and Veikkaus, previously a lottery management state entity.   

Total revenue of Veikkaus is 3.2 billion annually with 340 million coming from the national lottery. Revenues are channeled to charity and good causes . Land-based Helsinki Casino claims that it is the only casino in the world where the total revenues are funnelled to charity. The profits of Veikkaus are distributed by Finnish government .

The gaming industry is opposed to the monopoly system and is calling for the monopoly to end.  Restrictions are tough for gamers with the state blocking some IP addresses so that Finns do not access foreign online gambling casinos.   

Betting with foreign bookmakers falls into a grey area. The Sports Bettors Association in Finland has expressed concerns about Finns being unable to make a living from professional gambling.

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