What Do We Know About the Upcoming Finnish Gambling Regulations
Gambling is a pretty popular activity in Finland. It is not a strange sight to see slot machines at several supermarkets, gas stations or public leisure locations you step into. It has been discovered to be one of the most popular leisure-time activities of choice in the country. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 Fins gamble every year.
The only drawback is that; the government is trying to regulate the sector heavily. Like Norway, Finland runs a government-sanctioned monopoly. But even this monopoly has not stopped the country from being one of the locations with the highest volume of online gamblers in the world.
History of Gambling in Finland
The earliest signs of gambling in Finland can be traced to the early 1920s when slot machines were brought into Finland from Germany. The slot machines rapidly caught the fancy of most Fins as they trooped into most locations to play games. Here are some of the best online slots in the market.
A lot of private businesses decided to join slot games ventures. Due to the massive popularity of slot games, the Finnish government decided to put a sanction on it. It was decided that only charity organisations could obtain licenses to run slot games.
This decision did not sit well with the private businesses already running the slot machine venture. Because of that, five years later, the “Raha-automaattiyhdisty” (RAY) was introduced to control gambling operations in Finland.
Some years after RAY was introduced, “veikkaus oy” was created. It was the Finnish national lottery organisation and it still exists to date. The money raised from lotteries is used to fund other sectors of the Finnish economy like sports, culture and science.
For horse race bettings, the “fintoto oy” was established. As was seen with the “veikkaus oy”, money made from horse racing was put into Suomen Hippos, a charity organisation that took care of the well-being of horses.
In 2001, a new lottery act was promulgated In Finland. It helped the state-sanctioned monopoly to stay on top of its game. In 2017, “veikkaus oy”, “fintoto oy” and “RAY” came together to form one organisation to serve the people of Finland better. They are now called “Veikkaus”.
Who Runs Gambling in Finland?
Finland gambling is run by four state-sanctioned companies which are;
- The Veikkaus oy, which is involved with lotteries, sports betting, etc.
- The fintoto oy, which provides horse racing options.
- The Raha-automaattiyhdisty (RAY), which provides slot games and promotes responsible gambling.
- The play among friends (PAF) is the organisation that regulates gaming activities in the Aland islands which is a Finnish province.
With the presence of these options, many Fins still patronise online offshore operators. Gambling accounts for at least €1 billion in revenue for Finland every year. The gambling atmosphere in Finland is about to change as the government seeks to introduce stricter regulations on the sector.
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The Upcoming Gambling Regulations
In December 2021, the Suomen Eduskunta (Finnish parliament) decided to create a new lottery act. According to them, the major reason for this action is to improve responsible gambling.
There are three most prominent features of this new act. They include;
- Compulsory registration; this new reform requires every single person participating in the Finnish Gambling space to be registered.
- Introduction of payment blocking; one of the ways that this new reform aims to achieve its goal of strengthening the Finnish Gambling Monopoly is through payment blocking. Offshore gambling operators who are found to be breaking gambling laws will be subject to this regulation. The NPB (national police board) will help enforce this law by creating a blacklist of defaulters. Banks and other payment providers will work with the NPB to block such defaulters from receiving payments.
- Advertising of games that are considered “high addiction risk” will be banned!
Other features of this reform are also found in the 2001 lottery act. For example, it is restricted to advertise gambling in places other than where they are being played. Also, advertising gambling in a more positive light than it seems is illegal.
The gambling regulations were geared towards getting maximum revenues from gaming ventures in the past, but that has changed now. According to the government, the major purpose of the new law is to improve responsible gambling while at the same time strengthening the already existing Monopoly.
Where Does the EGBA’s Stand?
The European Betting and Gaming Association (EBGA) has opined that the new Finnish Gambling Regulations is a “missed opportunity” for the overdue reform.
According to the EBGA spokesperson, people disregard state-owned gambling platforms and patronise their offshore counterparts for many reasons ranging from; better betting odds, better diversity, better products etc. He said that governments should establish a well-regulated multi-licensing platform to better enhance the industry.
Also, experts feel it will be difficult to enforce the payment blocking rule due to the rise of cryptocurrency payment options.
Finland has one of the highest rates of gambling in Europe and the world at large. For a long time, the Finnish government has tried to maximise revenues obtained from the gambling industry using its monopolistic approach.
But now, with the new reform, the government aims to protect players and improve responsible gambling among its citizens. This will therefore reduce the rate of gambling addiction among Finnish citizens.