Finnish Government Outlines Licensing Plans

June 19, 2023
The Finnish government will introduce a licensing model for online casino games and betting before 2026, it has announced.


The Finnish government will introduce a licensing model for online casino games and betting before 2026, it has announced.

The decision to break up the country’s online gambling monopoly is the result of the negotiations on the government program published on June 16, as the leading parties following April’s general election enter the final stages of brokering a coalition agreement.

Reforming the licensing system is seen by the incoming government as necessary to “prevent and reduce the health, financial, and social harms caused by gambling and to improve the level of channeling within the gambling system”.

The relocation of slot machines to separate supervised premises will also be investigated, as will the possibility for consumers to self-exclude across all licensed services.

Advertising of licensed gambling products will be allowed if it is “moderate”, “responsible”, and has reasonable content, scope, visibility and frequency.

Personalised marketing without explicit consent from the individual will be prohibited.

The impacts of the licensing model on the Åland Islands, which is an autonomous region in Finland and home to operator Paf, will also be assessed and its self-governance funding has been ensured, the proposal says.

Minna Ripatti, a founding partner at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, explained that: “Next, the government will be officially appointed, and Parliament will discuss the government program.

“Later, a working group will be appointed to prepare the matter if everything goes as planned. The work will eventually start after the summer break.”

Ripatti said it was “good news that Finland is finally joining the other European and Nordic countries that have introduced a licensing system, and it is about time.”

Finland has one of the last remaining gambling monopolies in Europe, which is operated by government-owned Veikkaus Oy.

However, as Veikkaus’ online market share has fallen close to what it refers to as the “critical limit” of 50 percent, it has been pushing for a shift to a licensing model.

A recent report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Agency (KKV) estimated that around €520m-€590m was gambled outside the monopoly system in 2021, amounting to about 30 percent of all the money Finns spend on gambling and around 50 percent of the money spent on online gambling.

Any remaining verticals operated by Veikkaus, such as lottery games and gaming machines, will be separated from its competitive market operation and placed under different companies within the same group.

Responding to the news, Veikkaus CEO Olli Sarekoski said: “Through the licensing model, gambling companies outside mainland Finland that have been offering their services to Finns online for years will be subject to the same rules as Veikkaus. It serves the interests of Finland and Finns.”

Sarekoski believes Veikkaus has good standing to help it succeed in the new system against “tough” international competition.

“Veikkaus has built a very comprehensive framework for responsible gambling over the last few years. We have excellent capabilities to start working in the new system in that regard as well,” Sarekoski added.

The National Police Board told VIXIO that as the supervisory authority, it would not be commenting on the political decision-making process.

In the past, the National Police Board has stated that it is in line with the Ministry of the Interior’s recent preliminary study report that concluded any gambling system chosen by politicians should have at its core prevention and reduction of gambling-related harm.

There have been some signs of political opposition to a licensing model.

In February, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) warned the government that any change to the current licensing system must be based on evidence, which it claims does not show an increase in problem gambling or gambling outside the monopoly.

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