The Finnish Lotteries Act was proposed in September’21 and brought into force just before Christmas of 2021. The law’s major provisions come into effect from 1st Jan’22, while some smaller parts will come into force from Jan’23.
Before I go into the major changes that have come into effect, let me first give a brief overview of Finland’s gambling industry:
- The gross win of the Finnish gambling market in 2020 was about €1.6bn (down from €2.0bn in 2016). This is amongst the highest per capita wins in the world
- Finland has one of the highest numbers of gamblers per capita globally. Research suggests that nearly 80% of people are involved in gambling.
- Nearly 3% of those involved in gambling are problem gamblers, and 11% as at-risk gambling.
- The Finnish state controls the gambling business through Veikkaus, the state-owned betting monopoly company.
- Despite state monopoly, many offshore companies have sunk their teeth into the Finnish gambling market.
- While officially forbidden to market their gambling business in Finland, these operators use innovative marketing techniques such as social media influencers to market for them.
- For more information about gambling operators in Finland, you can visit the Finnish online guide to casinos and games, which offers information about the casinos and games that offer the best bonuses in Finland. The site has a solid list of operators that offer exceptionally high bonuses.
In the light of the above facts, the aim of Finland’s gambling policy till now was to strengthen the state-owned monopoly, which promotes “responsible gambling” while discouraging offshore operators. With this preface, let me highlight the changes that have come into place with the passing of the new law.
Finnish Gambling Law Reform
The central tenet of the reforms is to restrict advertising for offshore gambling companies in Finland. While this was banned in Finland even as per the earlier law, offshore players were circumventing this through “innovative” marketing techniques such as using social media influencers.
Introduction of Payment Blocking
This time, the key difference is the introduction of payment bans on offshore operators. The National Police Board (NPB) will start maintaining a black list of gambling operators who they believe are flouting marketing norms as per the Lotteries Act.
This means that if a gambling operator is blacklisted, punters will not be able to send money to these operators. Banks and payment service providers (PSPs) will block such payments. These blockages will begin in 2023, while NPB can start creating the list from 2022 itself.
Those offshore operators found guilty of illicit marketing activities will also be penalized monetarily. However, the penalty is avoidable if the operator immediately removes such advertising. Social media influencers are now under the ambit of this blocking of advertising and consequent fines, which was a popular way of circumventing the earlier ban on advertising.
Mandatory Registration of Gamblers
Everyone participating in gambling in Finland would mandatorily have to be registered. The law is not clear on how this is to be implemented.
Impact on Punters
With the passing of this reform, offshore gambling operators will find it difficult to operate and advertise their services in Finland. However, we need to mention that while the NPB can ban payment to an offending operator, they cannot ban the payment from any operator to a gambler residing in Finland.
This means that as a Finn gambler, you will never be robbed of your winnings if you continue to bid and play on sites that are even underpayment blocking. The only problem would be depositing money on such sites.
Payment Blocking and Cryptocurrencies
Another important point to note is that it remains to be seen how the government plans to ban the use of cryptocurrency wallets since banking bodies and payment service providers do not govern it. Recent statements from the Finnish Sports Bettors Association (who were severely against this reform) have also mentioned this point.