What Are the Current Gambling Laws in Finland?
The gambling industry is thriving in Finland, especially when it comes to online casinos. The legal framework that the industry operates in is very specific. Some significant changes in recent years had a great effect on legal gambling in Finland, and are still debated in the country.
Let us quickly go through the basics of the laws currently governing gambling in Finland, as well as other more recent developments that affected the industry.
Legal Framework: The Monopoly
Finland has a very long history of legal gambling, as this activity was legalized already in 1917. Gambling in the country is regulated by the Lotteries Act. The monitoring of gambling services is the task of the National Police Board.
Finnish citizens have a wide variety of gambling activities at their disposal, from casinos, through sports betting, to the lottery. In the past, different kinds of gambling were organized by three separate entities. Casinos and slot machines were organized by the Finnish Slot Machines Association – RAY, horse race betting was the area organized by Fintoto, and Veikkaus was responsible for organizing the lottery.
All of this changed in a big way in 2017. At that moment, all three entities were merged into one state-owned company called Veikkaus Oy. This company, based on the policy that was adopted in 2010 and under which only the government had the right to organize gambling in the country, was formally granted a monopoly on all legal gambling in Finland. But is this really so?
Online Casinos: The Loophole
Not quite. As we will see, the operational word here is “formally”.
Online casinos were legalized already in 1996. But as they are also a form of gambling, this means that only Veikkaus Oy can legally operate a Finnish online casino. But what this in practice means is that Finnish laws limit foreign-owned companies from advertising in the country – and that is basically all.
It is still perfectly legal for Finnish citizens to gamble by using foreign websites. And many of them do just that. Many of these websites explicitly try to engage with Finnish customers. For example, SuperSeven launched their Finnish casino earlier this year. The only bigger hindrance that such websites have is that they are not allowed to use the official .fi domain. But this in practice does not affect their popularity.
Still, some would like to limit foreign-owned online casino companies in a more serious way.
There are a few ways that the online casino businesses operating in Finland can be affected more seriously in the future.
For example, one proposal is for all gambling providers to be obliged to identify their slot machine customers. In addition to that, the Ministry of the Interior is also conducting a study on the possible introduction of technical restrictions on money transfers to foreign gambling sites. Even more radically, some are calling for so-called IP-blocking to be implemented. The result would be that Finns wouldn’t even be able to access foreign websites.
But such proposals are opposed in an organized way. One of the groups that question such ideas is the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA). Furthermore, the FCCA also directly questions the state monopoly on gambling that is imposed in Finland. One other group that recently opposed measures such as IP-blocking is the Finnish Sports Bettors Association.
The Stakes Are High
Finland has a lot of gambling enthusiasts and is considered a big gambling market. Especially developed is the web gambling sector – it makes Finland one of the top 10 largest gambling markets in the world.
This means that the number of websites that the Finns use for gambling can be measured in the thousands. A significant factor in this development is that the earnings a player makes through gambling are 100% tax-free – which was a great stimulus for the rise of the whole industry.
Hand in hand with the popularity of online gambling, Finland is also very up to date when it comes to digital payment methods and cryptocurrencies. All of this greatly benefits the Finnish economy and is closely tied to the gambling industry. Therefore many are very skeptical when it comes to imposing restrictions on gambling, starting from the state-imposed monopoly.
Even though some would like to further strengthen the state monopoly on gambling in Finland, many oppose such measures. In many ways, such measures are very anachronistic, and go not only against the economic interests of many groups and companies but also against the latest developments in digital technology.
For these and other reasons, it is very likely that the online gambling industry will continue to thrive in Finland. But be that as it may, at the moment, Finns can gamble perfectly legally by visiting many online casinos that are available to them.
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