Finland Authorities Pledge Quick Response In Betsson Payment Ban Saga

March 18, 2024
Finland’s National Police Board has said it is focusing its resources to quickly address Betsson’s decision to transfer brands on the country's payment blocklist to another operator.

Finland’s National Police Board (NPB) has said it is focusing its resources to quickly address Betsson’s decision to transfer brands on the country's payment blocklist to another operator.

On February 29, the NPB updated its payments blocklist to include several Betsson brands, including BML Group, NordicAutomaten, CasinoEuro, EuroCasino, NordicBet, Betsafe, Inkabet, Starcasino, Supercasino, Jackpot247, RaceBets and Jalla Casino.

Betsson’s website then changed to state that for “customers residing in the European Union (excluding customers residing in Sweden and sportsbook customers residing in Ireland), the operator of this website is Rizk Nordic Limited”.

BML Group, which is on the payment blocklist, was previously named as the operator for those customers.

Juhani Ali-Kurikka, senior advisor at the NPB, said transferring the brands to other companies has been noted and “did not come as a surprise to us”.

“We want to react to the situation quickly, correctly and fairly. Resources have been focused on solving the matter as quickly as possible, and new measures are possible at a fast pace. However, we cannot bring concrete measures to public discussion in advance,” he told Vixio GamblingCompliance. 

Ali-Kurikka also warned that if the marketing ban on Betsson is violated the NPB will “take action”.

A Betsson Group spokesperson said: “BML Group Ltd is fully compliant with the prohibition order of the NPB and does not have a customer offering that is targeting Finland.

“BML Group Ltd welcomes the plans by the Finnish government to introduce a competitive licensing system, which has the potential to increase both player protection and market efficiency by introducing fair competition among operators, improve the player experience and better meet player demands and preferences in the Finnish market,” the Betsson Group spokesperson added.

The payment blocking notice follows the NPB’s April 2023 move to bar Betsson from marketing gambling in Finland, under penalty of €2.4m.

BML Group will be appealing the ruling by the Administrative Court of Finland, as well as the blacklisting by the NPB, to the Supreme Court in Finland.

Antti Koivula, a legal advisor for Finnish law firm Legal Gaming, said these "cat and mouse games" are the first time the payment blocking system has been tested.

“It will be interesting to see how the NPB, as the supervisory authority, will react to such an action clearly contrary to the spirit of the law.

“It is also noteworthy that illegal gambling marketing is subject to criminal liability under the Criminal Code, according to which criminal responsibility for unlawful gambling marketing could be directed at certain individuals directly responsible for the operations within the gambling company,” Koivula said.

The Finnish government is preparing to license online gambling, aiming for market opening in 2026.

Two 2023 reports recommend a “Dutch-style cooling-off system”, without supplying any details on how it might work in Finland.

However, speaking to Vixio recently, Mika Kuismanen, chief executive of the Finnish Trade Association for Online Gambling, said he would “strongly oppose” a cooling-off period if it is put forward.

A cooling-off period, or other disincentives for operators to apply for a Finnish licence, “would in practice be a continuation for the monopoly regime”, he said.


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