Published: July 6, 2024

Veikkaus keeps lottery rights as Finland begins 2027 reforms

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

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.

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

Veikkaus Oy will end its existing monopoly contract by the end of 2026, necessitating regulatory changes. The Ministry of the Interior has opened a consultation to seek feedback until 18 August 2024.

A working group under the Ministry of the Interior has prepared the draft legislation, which aims to introduce a new licensing system. This system will open the market for betting and online gambling to new competition.

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

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

The Ministry of Finance will draft plans to establish a new supervisory authority to oversee gambling activities. This authority will have broad powers to impose administrative sanctions and penalties.

This new authority will replace Finland’s National Police Board supervision of gambling. It will address unlawful activities by imposing administrative sanctions, prohibiting the running and marketing of gambling games, rescinding licences, and reinforcing official decisions with a penalty payment.

The government plans to develop an IT network for 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. A centralised player registry will oversee new customer protections, allowing for customer self-exclusion across all licensed operators. This measure is needed to enhance consumer protection and reduce gambling-related harm.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will monitor and assess the harms associated with gambling. They will conduct 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. The government warned stakeholders that the outdoor marketing of gambling games involving ‘a high risk of harm’ will be prohibited.

The government intends to implement the proposed changes 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 settled. The new licensing system will also increase the annual compensation of Veikkaus Oy for its remaining exclusive contracts.

These reforms aim to modernise Finnish gambling and align it with contemporary regulatory standards of other European states. This will ensure better protection for consumers and create a more competitive market environment.


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