Finnish government changes tune on future of Veikkaus

Finnish government changes tune on future of Veikkaus

The Finnish government is reportedly onboard for a dramatic shakeup of the country’s licensing system, which may result in the end of the gambling monopoly held by Veikkaus.

Speaking to the MTV Uutisten news agency Tytti Tuppurainen, the country’s Minister of Europe and Ownership Management and a member of the governing Social Democratic Party (SDP), said that the government is supportive of the transition. 

The Minister also added that an investigation into the advantages and disadvantages of breaking the Veikkaus monopoly has been sped up, whilst noting that a shakeup of the licencing framework has general cross-party support.

Tuppurainen explained: “As the Minister of Ownership, I myself hastened to make a report on a possible transition to a multi-permit system. It is only a good thing that the opposition also shares this perception.

“There are parliamentary elections next spring, and it would be ideal that by the time of the government negotiations, we would have enough information to be able to make policies in the government negotiations.”

Veikkaus has functioned as the Finnish government-backed gaming monopoly since 2017, offering sports betting and lotteries as well as managing gambling machines. 

However, the continued existence of the monopoly has faced criticism from consumers, politicians, general industry stakeholders and even Veikkaus’ own leadership at times. 

Last year, CEO Olli Sarekoski and Deputy CEO Velipekka Nummikoski observed that despite the exclusivity of Finland’s licensing framework, the monopoly’s market share is roughly half, falling by 5% year-on-year as of September 2022 to revenue of €515m.

This suggests that large numbers of Finnish customers are betting with overseas companies outside of the monopoly’s limits, and Veikkaus leadership has urged authorities to adopt a new structure to better tax these operators.

Previous recommendations for changes to the framework have been rejected by the SDP, but the government now seems to be changing its tone.

“Now the game companies from abroad operate as if in a wild grey zone. They are not subject to the same liability regulations that apply to Veikkaus’ playing,” Tuppurainen continued.

“The situation naturally causes gambling disadvantages and at the same time the taxman’s hand is twisted, which means that the profits from gambling also go past Finland to foreign countries.”

Demonstrating the cross-party support for the plans, Sari Multala, an MP for the opposition  liberal-conservative National Coalition Party, told MTV Uutisten ‘it is really important that such a speech’ has been made by the ruling party.

The MP added that an investigation into the transition can now start ‘as soon as possible’ – as alluded to by Tuppurainen – but added that such a transition would require ‘extensive legislative changes’.

Multala also provided some insight into how the Finnish market would look under a multi-licence system, saying: “The Lottery and gambling machines would remain within Veikkaus’ monopoly. It is easier to regulate when there is only one actor. 

“On the online side, the regulation cannot achieve the goal of not playing out. Monitoring is easier in the physical world than online, stated Multala from the coalition’s line.”

Previous legislative and regulatory efforts in Finland have focused heavily on responsibility, such as an amendment to the Lotteries Act in 2021 which changed Veikkaus corporate structure to promote safer gambling and imposing time limits on slot machine play.

SBC News Finnish government changes tune on future of Veikkaus

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