Finnish Draft Licensing Law Expected Next Month

May 16, 2024
A major update on the future of Finland's licensing regime is expected next month, but key questions remain over possible advertising restrictions and requirements for B2B suppliers and payment service providers.

Updated 17/05/2024: Further clarification added to Ario Mansoori's comments.

A major update on the future of Finland's licensing regime is expected next month, but key questions remain over possible advertising restrictions and requirements for B2B suppliers and payment service providers (PSPs).

The first draft law for the licensing regime is set to be published in June and will be “roughly 80 to 90 percent ready”, Antti Koivula, a legal advisor for Finnish law firm Legal Gaming, said during a panel discussion at at the NEXT Summit: Valletta 2024 on May 15.

“Based on the available information, the new law will be in place by 2026, but there will be a transition period of roughly around 12 months, so operators will be able to function in the licensing system, roughly from the beginning of 2027,” Koivula said.

However, key questions remain about how the licensing regime will address marketing, PSPs and B2B suppliers.

Koivula said it has been anticipated that there will be lots of restrictions on advertising “but the discussion is heading in a healthier direction”.

Mikko Post, the senior affiliate manager at EBET, agreed that discussions in Finland are “moving to a bit more [of a] lenient approach as the government is increasingly seeing the financial benefit” of allowing licensed operators to market their products.

However, Post warned that if affiliate marketing is banned or heavily restricted it would make the market “very unappealing for small companies”.

When it comes to payments, Koivula believes PSP blocking is “very likely” to be included in the new regime.

Ario Mansoori, senior legal counsel at Zimpler, said from a gambling and payment perspective, a whitelist similar to the one available in the German market or even a “separate PSP licensing system” could help tackle the threat of the black market.

Mansoori also believes that the current payment blocking powers under the Finnish Lotteries Act are "in theory effective" given that the few published decisions’ on this legal subject indicates that "there are some improvements to be made” in the Finnish law; however, he was optimistic that once the new upcoming licence regime has entered into force in 2026 it will ensure that it is effectively implemented. 

Betsson's recent payment ban saga resulted in the operator being added and then removed from the payment blocking list, with the operator also switching brands named by officials to another holding company. The operator is the only target so far of the National Police Board's new payment blocking powers.

Koivula also asked the panel what the impact of potential B2B licensing would have on the Finnish market, as he believes there is a possibility that the government could look to Sweden for inspiration.

Since July 1, 2023, companies supplying Swedish gambling operators have been required to hold one or more licences offered by the Swedish Gambling Authority.

Paresh Rughani, the head of compliance for online slot supplier Play’n GO, said he welcomes B2B licensing in any jurisdiction as “it gives the supplier a direct connection with the regulator”.

“Everyone in the industry has a responsibility to try and eradicate the black market. B2B can block, monitor traffic, and identify black market operators. We certainly have a place in the decision to reduce the black market,” Rughani said.

However, despite saying following Sweden would be a “good reasonable pathway”, he explained that regulators must look at whether a game is playable on the black market or just visible.

In Sweden, suppliers can be fined for offering their services to companies that target the country without a licence.

“We can block the gameplay, but not the visibility,” Rughani said, adding that “suppliers have a responsibility to monitor where their games are supplied".

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