finland/finnish parliament

Finland opens consultation on new Gambling regime to launch in 2027

The Ministry of the Interior of Finland has submitted its draft proposal of a new Gambling Act to modernise Finnish gambling in line with recommendations previously put to the government. 

As formerly proposed, the new Gambling Act will end the ‘monopoly arrangements’ of state-owned gambling firm Veikkaus Oy, which currently has an exclusivity over sports betting and online casino games. 

Though proposals call for Veikkaus Oy to be removed from the online gambling market, the monopoly will retain exclusive rights to operate lotteries, racing pools, totalisator bets, physical slot machines, and arcade games.

Regulatory changes are required as Veikkaus Oy will end its existing monopoly contract by the end of 2026, for which the Ministry of the Interior has opened its consultation, seeking feedback until 18 August 2024. 

The draft legislation, prepared by a working group under the Ministry of the Interior, seeks to introduce a new licensing system that will open the market for betting and online gambling to new competition. 

The mandate of the new Gambling Act aims to prevent and reduce gambling-related harms by increasing consumer channeling to a regulated market. In previous briefings, Finnish ministers were warned that national consumers were wagering a minimum of €500m a year with unlicensed operators.

A new regime will prioritise the introduction of a licensing system for online operators, allowing foreign and domestic businesses to apply for licences granted by the Finnish Supervisory Agency. 

The Ministry of Finance has been instructed to draft plans to establish a new supervisory authority to oversee gambling activities with broad powers to impose administrative sanctions and penalties. 

The authority will replace Finland’s National Police Board supervision of gambling and will address unlawful activities by imposing administrative sanctions and be empowered to prohibit the running and marketing of gambling games, to rescind licences, and to reinforce official decisions with a penalty payment.

Further protections have called on the government to develop an IT network barring and payment blocking to restrict unlicensed gambling activities and exposure to the black market. 

The proposal calls for Finland to tighten its gambling compliance with new laws on customer registration, identity verification, and age limits for gamblers. New customer protections will be overseen by the launch of a centralised player registry for customer self-exclusion across all licensed operators, a measure needed to enhance consumer protection and reduce gambling-related harm. 

New safer gambling directives will see the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health monitor and assess the harms associated with gambling, conducting market research and well-being studies alongside the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Finland will revise its advertising laws to moderate the volume of gambling advertising in terms of scope, visibility, and repetitiveness. Stakeholders were warned that the outdoor marketing of gambling games involving ‘a high risk of harm’ will be prohibited. 

The proposed changes are intended to be implemented gradually, with licensing applications opening in early 2026 and licensed gambling operations starting in 2027. Veikkaus Oy will maintain its monopoly until the end of 2026, with full compliance for game software licensing expected by 2028.

The Ministry of the Interior has recommended that the state review the ownership structure of Veikkaus Oy as soon as the new system has been settled. The new licensing system will also increase the annual compensation of Veikkaus Oy for its remaining exclusive contracts. 

The reforms are part of a long-standing effort to modernise Finnish gambling and align it with contemporary regulatory standards of other European states, ensuring better protection for consumers and a more competitive market environment.

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