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Finland’s New Government Introduces Online Gambling Licenses
Finland’s latest government, as revealed on June 16, 2023, is dedicated to revolutionizing the online gambling market by launching a licensing system no later than January 2026. The government aims to put an end to the current monopoly system, opening doors for new opportunities.
Implementation of the Hybrid System
In a manner similar to Sweden, Finland plans to implement a hybrid system that combines both a licensing framework and a monopoly structure. The envisioned licensing system will cover online casino games and online wagering, providing a regulated environment for these activities.
Veikkaus Oy, the current monopoly holder, may retain its exclusive rights to slot machines, brick-and-mortar casinos, brick-and-mortar betting, lottery tickets, as well as lottery and raffle games, regardless of the sales channel. However, Veikkaus will undergo a division into two separate legal entities—one operating within the monopoly services sector and the other within the licensed gambling market.
A Study on the Monopoly of Gambling Activities in Finland
The forthcoming opening of the online gambling market follows a recent study conducted on the monopoly of gambling activities in Finland. The study revealed a significant financial loss for the Finnish state due to unregulated gambling occurring outside the monopoly system, amounting to approximately EUR 500–550 million annually. The researchers emphasized that nearly half of all online gambling takes place through channels not governed by the state monopoly.
Prevention and Reduction of Gambling-related Harm as the Main Objective
The main objective of Finnish gambling policy remains the prevention and complete elimination of harm caused by gambling. The government program aims to achieve this objective by allowing the marketing of licensed gambling services; however, such marketing must be responsible, moderate, and considerate in terms of content, visibility, scope, and frequency.
As part of the new measures, explicit consent from consumers will be required for direct marketing. To avoid the adverse effects of gambling, a unified service point will be established, enabling consumers to block gambling activities across all platforms offering licensed services. Furthermore, the government will assess the potential of limiting the availability of slot machines to supervised premises.
Presently, any party other than Veikkaus Oy is prohibited from marketing gambling services. This prohibition also extends to online marketing on foreign websites if it targets Finnish consumers.
The National Police Board of Finland oversees the Finnish gambling market and has taken action against multiple entities for violating gambling regulations. In April 2023, the board banned BML Group Ltd from marketing its gambling services in Finland, citing a breach of the Finnish Lotteries Act. Additionally, a conditional fine of EUR 2.4 million was imposed on the operator to enforce the ban. This marketing prohibition will remain in effect until the new legislation is enforceable.
Preparation of a legislative proposal for the next phase will be the responsibility of the new government. Although the exact timeline is unknown, preparations are expected to commence within this year.