Finland On Guard For Illegal Gambling Advertising At Rally Race

August 4, 2023
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Finland’s National Police Board has increased its supervision of an ongoing sporting event in the country over fears gambling companies outside of the monopoly system will take the opportunity to promote themselves.

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Finland’s National Police Board has increased its supervision of an ongoing sporting event in the country over fears gambling companies outside of the monopoly system will take the opportunity to promote themselves.

Organisers of the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) latest stop in Finland, which started on August 3 and ends on August 6, have been warned of the increased supervision and told to pass the same information on to other event stakeholders.

Johanna Syväterä, senior adviser of the National Police Board, said marketing material including logos of gambling companies outside the monopoly system should be removed or covered.

During the opening ceremony on August 2, Finnish rally driver Kalle Rovanperä covered the Unibet logo on his jacket. Photos from the same event last year appear to show Rovanperä wearing a jacket with the Unibet logo visible.

The Police Board can impose a penalty fee for willful violation of the marketing ban on unlicensed gambling, which is determined by turnover or taxed income, ranging from €10,000 to €5m.

“We hope that informing the parties participating in the competition in advance is a sufficient measure and that no illegal marketing will be seen in the event at all. If this is not the case for one reason or another, we are ready to act on the matter with a quick schedule,” Syväterä said.

Antti Koivula, a legal advisor at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, said the Police Board’s campaign made "perfect sense and came as no surprise".

“They have, for years, paid special attention to illegal gambling marketing that takes place in major events organised in Finland, as well as to the illegal use of Finnish sports stars in marketing. The WRC Finland provides the Police Board with a perfect opportunity to do both,” Koivula said.

The Police Board was granted more powers in the country's primary gambling law in 2022, but it has only been able to use the full extent of its new powers since the start of 2023. These included payment blocking and the ability to hand out fines.

The legal change also saw the Police Board granted increased funding.

The Police Board said at the start of 2023 that “international TV broadcasts where gambling marketing to Finland has effectively stopped. Relevant decisions were given in 2021 and the issue is pending decisions from the administrative court.”

On May 16, 2023, the Finnish National Police Board announced it had imposed a conditional fine of €2.4m to BML Group Ltd, a subsidiary of Betsson. The regulator said it imposed the order against BML Group on April 7 for marketing gambling services in mainland Finland, in violation of the Lotteries Act.

BML Group appealed the decision and won after the Helsinki Administrative Court ruled on June 2 that the National Police Board (NPB) must wait to enforce the order and fine it issued against the company, until the appeals process against the enforcement action is finished.

However, Heikki Koivula, a senior compliance advisor also at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, warned that “operators are now forced to take the National Police Board seriously” and it should be a wake-up call for any operator that has received a warning from the board in the past.

Separately, on January 10, 2023, the Finnish National Police Board (NPB) also launched a campaign against illegal advertising of gambling on social media via the use of influencers.

The Ei mitään rajaa (No Limit) campaign aims to raise awareness of illegal gambling advertising among young adults.

All of this is happening as the Finnish government announced in June that it is looking to break up the existing monopoly system and introduce a licensing model for online casino games and betting before 2026.

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