Half Of Finnish Gambling Money Going Offshore

June 9, 2023
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Half of the online gambling money spent by Finnish people goes outside the monopoly, according to a new report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Agency (KKV).

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Half of the online gambling money spent by Finnish people goes outside the monopoly, according to a new report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Agency (KKV).

KKV researchers estimate that around €520m-€590m was gambled outside the exclusive rights system in 2021, amounting to about 30 percent of all the money Finns spend on gambling and around 50 percent of the money spent on online gambling.

KKV lead researcher Joel Karjalainen said: “Based on our research, we can state that the ability of the gaming exclusivity system to prevent and reduce gambling harm has substantially weakened. The effects of the measures taken to remedy the situation must be carefully and comprehensively evaluated.”

Problem gambling is also “clearly more common” outside the monopoly, especially among young men.

People playing outside the monopoly gambled on average €10,000 a year, while those who only played games with monopoly operator Veikkaus spent around €340.

Karjalainen has clarified that the “report does not take a position on what kind of system would best implement the goal of reducing gambling problems. Comparing different systems requires a careful impact assessment, which we intend to do next.”

Anssi Airas, senior advisor for gambling administration at the National Police Board of Finland, said there is a larger underlying political question when it comes to making any changes to the monopoly and that the Ministry of the Interior, responsible for gambling policy in Finland, is best suited to give insights.

Recent changes to the gambling law gave the National Police Board new powers to counter illegal gambling and marketing.

"These tools are of course highly relevant as regards the findings of the report as they can, when effective, play a key role in preventing and reducing gambling harm in the form of tackling illegal marketing, which should lead to a decrease in gambling outside the legal system," Airas said.

Although the National Police Board still believes it is too early to assess these powers, which include payment blocking, "some early signs would suggest there may be a decrease in marketing in different channels".

"This may boil down to the availability and use of the new methods given to us in the latest reform, but may also in part follow the recent fairly wide coverage of individual cases regarding gambling marketing," Airas said.

A previous report released in April 2023 by the Ministry of the Interior stated that the monopoly system is at a “crossroads” and the country must consider introducing a licensing system or more measures to prevent unlicensed online gambling.

The report similarly found that the number of gamblers not using the exclusive rights system has remained stable in recent years at around 5-6 percent; however, the amount of money that is lost is estimated to be about €500m to €550m per year.

However, not all government agencies are in support of ending the monopoly.

On Monday (June 5), the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health published a report in favour of keeping the monopoly and “developing” it.

The minister cited Norway’s monopoly and a study from the University of Bergen that found the number of gambling problems has decreased in Norway by half since 2019.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare's (THL) estimates for gambling outside the monopoly, which were last updated in April 2023, say that the share of gambling outside the monopoly has remained fairly steady at around 5-6 percent.

However, THL also estimates that the share of the population who have played online gambling games outside the monopoly system during the past week was on a slight decline during 2022, corresponding to approximately 1.5 percent of the population.

Separately, an influencer and streamer has been found guilty of illegal marketing on affiliate websites and social media platforms in Finland and was handed a suspended jail sentence and forced to hand over €50,000 worth of assets.

Antti Koivula, a partner and legal advisor for Finland-based law firm Legal Gaming, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that “from a legal perspective, there is nothing unusual in the criminal verdict against streamer/influencer Lauri Kangas”.

“The evidence was overwhelming, and according to the court, Kangas essentially admitted to acting in the manner described in the charge. The case serves as a good reminder of how illegal gambling advertising exposes [individuals] to criminal liability,” Koivula said.

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