Will Finland open up its gaming monopoly?
It has long been known that the government in Finland has an air-tight Monopoly on the €10 billion per year gambling industry within the country. Unsurprisingly, this is much to the chagrin of EU, which has exerted pressure to end all forms of state run monopolies and open up markets to competition. Despite the pressure, Finland has remained steadfast and have yet to budge on the issue.
So, will things ever change? Will international operators ever get a piece of the Finnish gambling pie?
The case for opening up to competition
While it might be extremely profitable to have total control of such a large and lucrative market, and the Finnish government undoubtedly use profits for social good, there are genuinely good reasons for opening up the market, too.
First, competition spurs innovation, meaning better experiences and products for everyone. With a total lockdown on the gambling market, where is the incentive for improvement and innovation?
Second, it would actually give the Finnish government a greater degree of control. While this sounds counterintuitive, there are lots of online sites offering casino games and poker to Finnish players, and as it stands the government can not control or regulate them.
Opening the market to international operators would force these sites to apply for a license, and hence force them to play by the rules set by regulators. Lastly, it would arguably increase the profit in the industry. International operators bring lots of cash with them, and with a greater selection of products and services to choose from, it’s very possible that opening up would actually increase the size of the gambling industry, providing even more jobs and generating extra revenue.
Online gambling in Finland – the dos and dont’s
First and foremost, it should be noted that the Finnish government does not recognise any online gambling sites not run by one of its three sanctioned organisations:
- RAY, which runs casino games such as slots and card games.
- Veikkaus Oy, which runs lotto, sports betting, and scratchcards.
- Fintoto Oy, which runs horse racing.
All of the above-mentioned organizations have licences under the Lotteries Act (2001), and are deemed legal.
With that said, there are no actual legal mechanisms in Finland to stop online gamblers from playing wherever they like. It is only illegal for outside operators to advertise to Finnish players, but they do so anyway through the web.
Should you chose to play online, it’s wise to follow these tips to stay safe.
1) Use a professional casino comparison tool
Visit NettikasinotSuomalaisille, a comparison site created by experts to see which sites are run by licensed, legitimate operators. It’s unfortunate that scam sites exist, but they do, and they can be avoided by checking out a casino on a site like this first.
2) Declare your winnings
It is necessary for all gambling operators to declare profits and pay an 8.5% tax on winnings. If you have won a jackpot from a site outside of the state approved list, it is highly advisable to declare your winnings to stay on the right side of the law. No tax may be owed, but it is always best to play it safe and have peace of mind.
3) Never attempt to offer or promote gambling
In such a heavily regulated market, it would be extremely unwise to try to arrange real money poker tournaments or slots tournaments, for example, or to promote sites doing so such as by acting as an affiliate.
It is also illegal under the lotteries act to publish material promoting unlicensed gambling. For this reason, it is advisable to seek legal advice before becoming an affiliate of any operator outside of the state approved three, and especially so before offering your own games.
So, will Finland open up and liberalise?
At the moment, it’s extremely unlikely. Despite the strong case for market liberalization, the pressure from the EU currently is nothing more than letters expressing disapproval. This is unlikely to change anything where such ludicrous profits are involved.
Unless the EU changes tactics, we can expect the Finnish gambling market to remain a monopoly closed to outside operators for some time to come.