Gambling in Finland: the government confirms plans to open the market to competition

Finland will introduce licensing for online casino and sports betting.
Finland will introduce licensing for online casino and sports betting.

The Finnish government intends to end Veikkaus’s gambling monopoly by 2026 at the latest.

Finland.- The Finnish government has confirmed that it intends to liberalise gambling in Finland, and sooner rather than later. It intends to end state operator Veikkaus’s monopoly and create a licensed gambling market by “no later than 2026”. The country’s new government launched an investigation into the possibility at the start of this year.

There will be licences for online casino gaming and sports betting, while Veikkaus will be divided into separate companies, reversing the merger that took place in 2017 when Veikkaus was combined with the slots operator Raha-automaattiyhdistys and the horse race betting operator Fintoto.

The government said it would introduce measures to protect against money laundering and breaches of sports integrity and would create a national gambling self-exclusion system. There are likely to be limits on advertising, with the government saying that marketing will have to be “moderate and responsible in its content scope, visibility and frequency”.

The government said that the reforms would aim to reduce financial and social harm caused by gambling by improving the rate of channelisation to legal operators. It said the existing monopoly system had not been successful, with only 50 per cent of the market being channelled to Veikkaus.

It said: “The introduction of the licence model must be based on a careful investigation of the social effects of the reform and especially its effects on the prevalence of gambling problems.”

Mika Kuismanen, chief executive of the Finnish online gambling trade association, Rahapeliala, said: “We are pleased to see how the government has recognised the need to renew our gambling system to meet the realities of today’s technology.

“This reform strengthens fair competition and protects the interests of society and players. The reform of the gambling system is a great example of how structural changes can be implemented in an economically and socially responsible manner, when there is enough courage.”

Veikkaus itself had welcomed a government study that recommended against maintaining the current regime in the country.

CEO Olli Sarekoski said in April: “If the system change is headed towards a licence system, from Veikkaus’ point of view, it is desirable that this change happens faster rather than slowly.”

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