Finland’s government has confirmed the scope and time frame of the country’s reforms of its gambling licence system, setting an expected date for the end of Europe’s last gaming monopoly.
The changes were announced in the government’s latest agenda, along with a range of other legal changes. According to authorities, interested stakeholders can expect a change away from the current Veikkaus Oy monopoly to a partial-licence system ‘no later than’ 1 January 2026.
This confirms predictions revealed to SBC News by Antti Koivula, Partner at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, who provided some insights into how reform into Finnish gambling reforms can be expected to rollout.
Specifically, Koivula projected that the change from the monopoly system – which sees state-backed Veikkaus hold exclusive rights to betting, gaming and lottery – to a partial licence system would occur by around 2025.
The second important aspect of Finland’s licensing transition confirmed by the government was which private business activity will be permitted. As previously implied, policymakers stated that commercial licences will ‘basically include’ online betting and online casino products.
Finnish motivation for an end to the gambling monopoly is primarily driven by concerns regarding channelisation, specifically the redirection of customers from illegal, offshore bookmakers to locally licenced ones.
The government noted that current channelisation rates stand at around 50%, far below the ideal level as many Finns look to offshore firms as an alternative to Veikkaus. The state monopoly itself has called for a change to the licensing structure due to channelisation issues.
In its opening remark on gambling, the government agenda stated: “The goal of the reform is to prevent and reduce gambling caused health, economic and social harms and improve the gambling system degree of channelisation of the term.”
Further on in the agenda, the government stated that low channelisation rate means that “those operating in the digital gambling market companies outside the exclusive rights system receive their income without licence fees, taxes or liability for gambling problems caused by the operation”.
In the aftermath of a reform, the government plans to continue monitoring the system closely and has highlighted prevention of gambling harm – and allocation of resources towards this – as a key priority. This could include the establishment of a nationwide self-exclusion scheme, similar to the Gamstop system adopted in the UK.
Coupled with this will be a responsibility for any private betting operators with Finnish licences to uphold marketing standards.
Similar to other countries which have undergone gambling reforms in recent years, such as the Netherlands, Finnish firms will be required to ensure gambling ‘that causes harm’ is not promoted and that advertising material and campaigns are not directly targeting young consumers.
Lastly, the government provided assurances on the continued status of Aland’s existing gambling framework. The island region of the Baltic has its own regional government which owns the Paf operator, active in the area but also in neighbouring markets such as Latvia.
Above all else, the government asserted that before any reforms are undertaken, a ‘careful investigation’ into the social effects and potential disadvantages of any changes will be completed first.
Plans for the adoption of a new licensing model to solve Finland’s channelisation issues, first drafted by Minister of Europe and Ownership Management, Tytti Tuppurainen, have received broad political support in the country.
Notably, the Centre Party and National Coalition Party (NCP), and the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Labore) have all joined Veikkaus in calling for reform. According to the government’s agenda, both political and industry stakeholders can expect these changes to come into effect within three years.