Finland Puts Betsson On Payments Blocking List

March 1, 2024
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​​​​​​​Betsson Group brands have been placed on Finland’s gambling payments blocking list, as the country’s gambling regulator exercises its enforcement powers.
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Betsson Group brands have been placed on Finland’s gambling payments blocking list, as the country’s gambling regulator exercises its enforcement powers.

Payments blocking restricts outgoing payments from a player to a gambling company. A measure that regulator the National Police Board (NPB) is using to target gambling services in violation of Finland’s Gambling Act, the agency said.

On the list are Betsson units such as BML Group, NordicAutomaten, CasinoEuro, EuroCasino, NordicBet, Betsafe, Inkabet, Starcasino, Supercasino, Jackpot247, RaceBets and Jalla Casino.

The notice yesterday (February 29) follows the Police Board’s April 2023 move to bar Betsson from marketing gambling in Finland, under penalty of a €2.4m fine.

On February 19, Betsson, or BML Group, lost its appeal to the Helsinki Administrative Court, which gave the police board the right to take the step of putting it on the blocking list. Betsson can appeal the administrative court's ruling for 30 days from that ruling, a police spokesman said. 

Antti Koivula, legal advisor for Finland’s Legal Gaming, said Betsson’s recent loss on the court appeal of its gambling marketing fine automatically meant it would be blacklisted as well.

“I have been extremely surprised by how stubbornly BML held on to certain commercially insignificant marketing practices, even though it was clear from the beginning that those practices were infringing the Lotteries Act, which the NPB pinpointed for them on several occasions,” he said.

The next question is whether Betsson applies for leave to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court and whether such an appeal could affect its chance of getting a Finnish online gambling licence in a few years, he said. 

“The appeal process in the Supreme Administrative Court might take a few years, and it certainly would not be a healthy starting point for a licensing application to have a fresh Supreme Administrative Court decision stating that you've breached the law for an extended period of time,” Koivula said.  

At the beginning of 2023, the Police Board gained the power to, as it says, “protect players from harm and safeguard the monopoly system”.

Finland currently has a gambling monopoly under Veikkaus, but the government-owned company has supported opening online gambling for a licensing system, as its online gambling market share has dropped to as low as 40 percent.

But Veikkaus supports, and two government reports recommend, a “Dutch-style cooling off period”, which suggests that companies added to Police Board blocking lists could face consequences.

The Netherlands barred those who had operated in the country pre-licensing from applying for a licence for 33 months, and eventually forced anyone who wanted to apply for a licence to pull out completely until they got one.

In Finland, payment service providers have a duty to block payments such as account transfers, card payments and direct debiting, or they themselves may be subject to prohibition orders or fines, the police board said.

Betsson did not respond to requests for comment in time for deadline.

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