The Helsinki Administrative Court has overturned an €800,000 fine levied by Finland’s National Police Board, which had also banned gambling advertising offered by Eurosport 1 television channel.
The court ruled that the police board, which enforces gambling laws, could not prohibit Eurosport from broadcasting gambling ads, as the ban was against European Union audiovisual and media directives, along with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, according to a press release from the court on Wednesday (April 19).
The police board decided to fine Eurosport on September 16, 2021, saying that its gambling advertising violated laws protecting Finland’s gambling monopoly Veikkaus Oy, even though they originated from France.
The board, known as Poliisihallitus, had said that most of the ads were in Finnish language, used Finnish banking information and used a public figure, which it did not name, who is popular in Finland. But the court said the police board had unfairly restricted a TV broadcast from another EU state.
The ruling is “undoubtedly significant”, as it is the first time a Finnish court has examined whether the police board has the authority to intervene in TV broadcasts originating in another EU state, said Antti Koivula of Finnish law firm Legal Gaming.
But the ramifications are “somewhat limited”, as it simply deals with the audiovisual services directive’s country-of-origin principle, he said.
It does not “nullify” marketing prohibitions in the Finnish Lotteries Act and it is unlikely to have significant impact on the police board’s supervisory activities on a practical basis, Koivula said.
As the ruling was “well-written and left no doubts”, the lawyer thought an appeal would be a “waste of resources”.
The ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, if that court grants permission, the court said.
A police board spokesperson was unable to respond in time for deadline.
Finland's monopoly is widely expected to end in the coming years, with the winner of the country's recent general election saying it is keen to "give up" the current system.