Finland Election Winners Want To End Monopoly

April 6, 2023
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The winners of Finland’s recent general election have said they are keen to “give up” the Veikkaus monopoly and move the country to a licence-based system for online gambling.

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The winners of Finland’s recent general election have said they are keen to “give up” the Veikkaus monopoly and move the country to a licence-based system for online gambling.

“At the same time, the National Coalition Party (NCP) also wants to do more about the problems gambling is causing some people,” a spokesperson for the party told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“We would like for example to move slot machines to separate closed spaces, increase the control of gambling and separate the beneficiaries more clearly from the distribution of the money received from gambling,” the NCP said.

The NCP secured 48 seats, making it the largest party in parliament, but it will need to join forces with other parties to form a government.

NCP leader and likely new Finnish Premier Petteri Orpo is expected to start negotiations after the Easter break is over on April 10.

In its election platform published in February, the party promised to turn the tide of the Finnish economy and standard of living in part by removing obstacles to entering markets, increasing competition between companies and “relieving regulations and unnecessary norms to lower consumer prices”.

This included a pledge to “reform gambling systems” among a host of other industries.

Antti Koivula, a partner and legal advisor for Finland-based Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, called the election result a “big win for licensing plans”.

“The National Coalition party has been the loudest regarding online gambling matters, as they have publicly stated on several occasions that dismantling the gambling monopoly will happen during the parliamentary term of 2023-2027 if they have something to say on the matter,” he told VIXIO.

However, Koivula pointed out that the outcome of the election was “not crucial” to gambling reform as there is “already a widespread political agreement that a partial licensing system (including online casino games and online betting) is the direction in which Finland will head”.

At the start of January, the former Finnish government announced it was officially considering the possibility of scrapping the country’s gambling monopoly and launching a licence-based online gambling system.

In the first steps to a possible change, the Ministry of the Interior set up a three-month research project, running until April 15, 2023, which is examining alternatives to the current exclusive rights system that sees Veikkaus run all gambling in the country.

“With [the National Coalition Party] in charge, the likelihood of Finland creating a balanced licensing system, which is not overly strict and allows business to bloom, is the greatest. They are also the ones who are pushing for the fastest change,” said Koivula.

Even Veikkaus itself has suggested exploring the potential for a licensing system, but the authority overseeing gambling has questioned the timing of the debate as more powers and staff are inbound to allow it to combat offshore gambling operators.

Veikkaus’ gross gaming revenue decreased by 2.7 percent in 2022 to €1.07bn, as it estimates that its online market share continued to decline to “just over 50 percent” by the end of 2022, according to an announcement on March 8. This decline in market share has caused concern for the company and many lawmakers.

In its alternative budget put out in December 2022, the NCP estimates that a gambling licensing system would bolster the government’s annual available expenditure by €50m, although there is no indication of where the party got the estimate from.

However, the National Police Board of Finland has said recent legal changes provide more resources to the authority, which will be used to hire more staff to significantly improve its ability to undertake enforcement checks.

Finland’s new Lottery Act came into effect on January 1, 2022, with some parts of the law introduced at the beginning of 2023, such as empowering the National Police Board to begin payment blocking.

The new law also gave the police the power to intervene in social media marketing and sanction influencers, as well as clamp down on international TV advertising.

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