Foreign Operators Advertising In Finland On Thin Ice

May 6, 2022
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The National Police Board of Finland has said it has taken action to prevent foreign gambling companies from advertising at the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.

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The National Police Board of Finland has said it has taken action to prevent foreign gambling companies from advertising at the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship.

“Gambling causes significant economic, social, and health disadvantages. For this reason, the National Board of Police is intervening in the illegal gambling marketing in connection with the World Hockey Championships,” senior inspector Juhani Ala-Kurikka from the Police Board's Lottery Administration said.

Letters have been sent to “several dozen” people regarding gambling ads, according to the police, who are looking to raise awareness among consumers and organisers of public events about the illegality of promoting foreign gambling firms.

In the past, gambling marketing material including logo-branded free products has been distributed at public events in Finland.

“There has been a case in which a sauna truck had been spectacularly taped with a gambling company's logos. In marketing, often the only limit is imagination,” Ala-Kurikka said.

In Finland, only Veikkaus is legally allowed to market gambling products to Finnish consumers living in Finland.

The police argue that marketing at events held in Finland is “clearly” aimed at Finnish consumers.

On December 22, 2021, Finland’s President signed the Lottery Act amendments, which reinforced the existing monopoly system. The new law entered into force on January 1, 2022

The new law also expanded the National Police Board’s enforcement powers, allowing it to submit fines to the Market Court for advertising it deems to be in violation of the Lottery Act.

In October 2021, the Police Board fined television network Eurosport €800,000 ($929,000), even though the broadcasts originated from outside Finland, as they were deemed to be targeting Finnish people

The host cities of the World Championships are Tampere and Helsinki, home to the country's only two land-based casinos, which are both operated by state-owned Veikkaus.

Separately, the country’s free gambling helpline has warned that the types of games Finnish people are playing are rapidly changing and those seeking help are often in debt.

Peluuri, which is financed by Veikkaus, released its 2021 annual gambling report which revealed that 85 percent of people coming to them for help primarily played online gambling.

In 2019, Peluuri recorded that the primary form of problematic gambling was slot machines either online or offline in 83 percent of its cases, split between 43 percent online and 40 percent offline.

In 2021, the share of online slot machines as the primary form of problematic gambling was 54 percent and the share of land-based slot machines declined to just 9 percent.

In November 2021, Veikkaus research suggested that problem gambling rates among slots players were just 0.8 percent, an all-time low, which it said was a result of restrictive consumer protection measures introduced over the past few years.

Peluuri’s data also shows 80 percent of its 2,058 callers had gambling-related debt, with 55 percent of them having more than €10,000 in debt.

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