Finnish Government Mulls End Of Online Gambling Monopoly

January 6, 2023
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After months of pressure and speculation Finnish authorities announced on Thursday they are officially considering the possibility of scrapping the country’s gambling monopoly and launching a licence-based online gambling system.

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After months of pressure and speculation Finnish authorities announced on Thursday (January 5) they are 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 has set up a three-month research project that examines alternatives to the current exclusive rights system which sees Veikkaus run all gambling in the country.

The project will look at legislative, legal and marketing issues around any transition to licence-based regulation. It will also evaluate the success of the current monopoly system in terms of dealing with problem gambling, one of the key aims of the Lotteries Act.

One of the major concerns is the number of Finns who gamble online with unregulated operators or with operators from other countries. Estimates of the amount of money gambled outside Veikkaus’ monopoly vary, but is thought to be €250m to €300m annually.

Interior minister Krista Mikkonen said: “It is important that the development of technology and changes in the operating environment are monitored in the gambling industry.

“Our national legislation is unable to deal with all the disadvantages caused by gambling from companies outside the exclusive rights system, even though a significant part of digital gaming takes place through them.

“The investigation project set up now will create a situational picture and map out the social benefits and disadvantages of various gambling systems.”

Tytti Tuppurainen, minister of Europe and state ownership, said: “The higher the share of playing abroad, the weaker Veikkaus' ability to operate. The problem is that the disadvantages remain in Finland, while the profits escape abroad. With the help of the report, it will be possible to examine whether it would be beneficial from society's point of view to switch to a multi-licence system.”

A spokesman said the study would concentrate on the prevalence of gaming outside the exclusive system, particularly with online casino and betting games.

The project will examine the gambling systems in use in other countries and wider EU legal requirements.

Once seen as a sturdy monopoly holdout in a continent that has largely shifted to local licensing, momentum for reform in Finland built rapidly in the second half of 2022.

The government study will run until April 15, 2023, and will be headed by economist Harri Sailas. The progress of the project will be monitored by a political steering group.

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