The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has 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.
THL, which is a research and development institute operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said experts even believe that problem gambling may have decreased in recent years in the country, due to legislation such as the mandatory identification of players across the exclusive rights holder in the country, Veikkaus.
The claims were made by THL in a press release on February 16, amid ongoing discussions in the country about the future of the exclusive rights model.
Jani Selin, a specialist researcher for THL, believes more information is needed before “major political decisions affecting the entire society are made about the system. Decisions cannot be based solely on the gambling behaviour of a small group of people.”
Selin added that “there are claims about the growth of gambling outside the system, but based on the data sources monitored by THL, there is no growth”.
THL estimates that approximately 5–6 percent of the adult population in mainland Finland gamble online outside the monopoly system each year.
“According to the Police Board's estimate, this means clearly less than €300m. A significant part of this gambling is aimed at the offerings of Paf (Ålands Penningautomatförening) operating in Åland,” THL said.
The Police Board's latest update on the Finnish gambling market, where THL takes its estimate of players gambling outside the monopoly, was published in April 2022.
The update uses data from H2 Gambling Capital to estimate that, in 2021, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the monopoly was €1,100.1m, a decrease of 12.7 percent compared with the previous year.
Minna Ripatti, the founder of Finland-based Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, said that "THL's data seem to lack details regarding the non-declining monopoly gambling” and leaves “a space for criticism”.
Ripatti pointed out to VIXIO GamblingCompliance that the THL statement actually “contradicts the recent numbers published by H2 Gambling Capital, which indicated growth in the offshore sector in Finland”.
Opinion has been turning against the monopoly model, with various stakeholders citing low levels of channelisation, problem gambling rates and consumer protection concerns.
In November 2022, Jan Hagelberg, chief product officer at Veikkaus, said that the company’s market share is “declining quite heavily. Now it’s approaching the critical 50 percent, [so] it was time to say out loud that there should be consideration of the system.”
Responding to these concerns, the Ministry of the Interior set up a three-month research project on January 5 to look at alternatives to the current system.
Finland’s National Coalition Party (NCP), the country’s third-largest in parliament, estimated that a gambling licensing system would bolster the government’s annual available expenditure by €50m.