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Finland moves away from gambling monopoly



In most legislations, online gambling has been generating year-on-year growth for the past years, also due to the decline of brick-and-mortar gambling. But not in Finland, where last year, gross gaming revenue dropped by 3.6 per cent, to €1.03bn. This was the second consecutive year that Finnish gambling monopoly Veikkaus saw a drop in GGR – as in 2022, it suffered a three per cent decline over 2021.

Such drops should be interpreted within the context of a massive regulatory change that is set to take the Finnish gambling market by storm – mainly the end of the gambling monopoly in the country in 2026.

For decades, Finland has defended and upheld its State monopoly with regards to the gambling system. Currently, licences for B2B or B2C gambling cannot be awarded as these are the sole remit of Veikkaus. According to the Lotteries Act, only State-owned Veikkaus can offer gambling services in Finland – and the European Commission has also previously confirmed that the Finnish gambling monopoly is justified, as it is considered to be the most effective way to curb the negative effects of gambling.

However, in 2021, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority stated that the current gambling system in Finland has not succeeded in minimising the negative effects of gambling. Then in 2023, the then newly formed Finnish government committed to end the current monopoly system, in favour of a licensing model. This, the new government said, would improve the country’s channelisation rate to legal offerings – and as a result, help prevent the financial and social harm of gambling.

Under the new legislation, the licensing system would include online casino games from reputable platforms such as those you can find at Suomen Nettikasinot, as well as sports betting. As part of the shift from a monopoly, government would also divide Veikkaus into a number of separate companies – effectively reversing the 2017 merger of Veikkaus, slot business Raha-automaattiyhdistys and horse-race betting operator Fintoto.

But the regulatory upheaval would not simply end the State-owned monopoly. The Finnish government has also committed to enhance the current regulation – by empowering the regulator with sufficient resources to ensure that operators follow the new legislation, while combating money laundering and sports integrity violations. In order to boost responsible gambling and enhance player protection, the new legislation would also establish a single self-exclusion platform for all gambling portals. Marketing would also be limited in content scope, visibility and frequency.

By shifting legislation towards a licensing system, Finland aims to enhance player protection, while streamlining operations, increasing efficiency, and regulating the industry effectively.

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