The Finnish government’s change of heart on the future of the Veikkaus monopoly has broad political support from the country’s political parties, according to media reports.
Local news service Yle.fl quoted three political stakeholders representing different political blocs in Finland’s parliament – the Centre Party and National Coalition Party (NCP), and the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Labore).
All three spoke positively of the plans outlined by Minister of Europe and Ownership Management, Tytti Tuppurainen, at the start of this month, which will commence with an investigation into replacing the existing monopoly before embarking on legislative changes.
Eeva Kalli, Chair of the Centre Party’s parliamentary group, said: “It’s unsustainable for gaming profits to increasingly end up outside of Finland while they cause harm here.”
The rationale behind both the government and parliament’s reasoning is simple – many Finnish bettors are doing so with overseas companies, bypassing the Veikkaus monopoly, which has lost out on revenue and market share.
As alluded to by Kalli, this has two negative consequences, the first being that the government loses out on gaming taxation revenue.
Secondly, Finnish gamblers are playing with companies which may not be operating to Finland’s regulatory and player protection standards.
Speaking exclusively to SBC News in the aftermath of Tuppurainen’s initial comments, Antti Koivula, Partner and Legal Advisor at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, emphasised that ‘money and market share’ are the overriding concern behind the government’s decision.
Veikkaus has been struggling to maintain strong market share for some time, with its current GGR for H1 2022 estimated at €1-1.1bn, with ‘offshore leakage’ – customers betting outside the regulated system – of €500m, for a total online market share of just 50% for the only licenced betting and gaming provider in Finland.
After Sweden abandoned its monopoly in 2018, Finland is one of the few countries in Europe left to maintain such a licensing model, described by Koivula as ‘historical remains’ which should become a thing of the past.
Kai Mykkänen, Head of the NCP’s Parliamentary Group, held a similar sentiment, saying: “Monopolies generally aren’t a good way of mitigating health dangers or other problems. They’re historical remnants.”
Meanwhile, Mika Maliranta, Director of Labore, remarked: “Technological progress is a typical factor reducing the impact of monopolies on markets. Major practical problems exist in the regulation of online gambling.”
The government’s plan to begin with an initial investigation into replacing Veikkaus is the right course of action, Finnish political stakeholders believe.
Due to Veikkaus’ own troubles in the market, the company itself has spoken in favour of a licensing transition in the past – CEO Olli Sarekoski and Deputy CEO Velipekka Nummikoski called for the government to examine the possibility back in 2021.
In his interview with SBC News, Koivula explained that Finland’s legislative process would likely mean that a new licensing system would come into place around 2025.
Although this is still some time away, the cross-party political support for reform will likely come as a source of comfort for many betting stakeholders in the country eager to see a new dawn for the Finnish market.