Finland’s long-anticipated Lottery Act amendment was submitted to parliament on September 23, confirming the government's intent to bolster the country’s monopoly system.
The Ministry of the Interior said the main aim of the bill is to reduce gambling-related harms, via methods such as requiring all forms of gambling to need identification by 2023 and expanding the ability of the gambling regulator, the Police Board, to take enforcement action against illegal operators.
Under the proposal, gambling advertising must be “moderate” and games deemed “particularly harmful”, such as slots, will not be allowed to advertise.
The bill also proposes the introduction of payment blocking measures against operators that target Finnish customers, with the Police Board maintaining a blocklist for banks and payment service providers.
Monopoly rights holder Veikkaus will be required to draw up a gambling machine self-monitoring plan and ensure it can implement harm prevention controls.
Additionally, the change will allow for Veikkaus to establish a subsidiary to provide gaming products and services to other companies that do not engage in consumer gambling activities.
The laws would come into force in different stages.
Most of the amendments would enter into force at the beginning of 2022.
The regulation on payment blocking is scheduled to enter into force at the beginning of 2023.
The proposal stalled for several months when it was received by the European Commission after Malta submitted a detailed opinion; however, it passed a standstill in July before being introduced to parliament last week.
Not everyone is happy with the new act, especially those opposed to maintaining the existing exclusive rights model, who argue it will see more players using unlicensed operators.
Peluuri, which runs gambling clinics, also said it was disappointed the government’s proposals allow for decentralised slot machines to remain in cafes and bars.
“Decentralised slot machines remain in our everyday environment, even though we know they are a clear cause and maintainer of gambling problems. Mandatory identification and the extension of the ban are good reforms but not enough, ” Inka Silvennoinen, the head of Peluuri, said.
Peluuri also questioned the success of payment blocking measures, arguing the government is trying to protect the exclusive rights model at the risk of causing gambling harms.