Study into Cross-European Licensing Frameworks
The Finnish government has released a study examining cross-European regulatory and licensing frameworks as it assesses the best approach to end the monopoly held by Veikkaus OY. The current monopoly model, which grants Veikkaus exclusive rights to casino, lottery, and betting products, has been under political scrutiny since January.
Transition to a Partial-License Model
Under the proposed license system, Veikkaus would maintain exclusive rights to physical casinos, slot machines, bricks-and-mortar betting and lotteries, and lottery and raffle games such as loto and keno. The remaining licenses, covering online sports betting and online casino gaming, would be open to any interested operator. Policymakers estimate that the unlicensed gambling margin currently stands between €500m and €550m, with Veikkaus’ share of gambling revenue having “decreased significantly over the past few years.”
Improving Player Protection and Taxation Revenue
With about a third of Finnish bettors using unlicensed firms, player protection services have not been effectively utilised, and the government has lost out on taxation revenue. Consequently, authorities have examined case studies from countries in similar situations, aiming to transition to a “partial-license model.” The study concluded that such a move would “direct a significantly larger share of digital gambling consumption to regulated games than is currently the case.”
Focus on Responsible Gambling and Transition Preparation
The government recognises that the overall consumption of gambling could increase in Finland due to market expansion, necessitating a robust framework for responsible and safer gambling. Preparing for a transition period, focusing on criteria for granting licenses, taxation rates, economic impact, marketing, gambling harm prevention measures, and regulatory supervision are all key areas of concern.
International Comparisons and Marketing Improvements
The Finnish report assessed the situations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France, finding a channelisation rate between 80% and 90%. The study also found that marketing regulations in these countries were more effective than those in Finland. “In terms of marketing, the general line is that games may be advertised personally only to persons who have given their consent,” the report stated.
Timeline for Implementation
It is unclear when the new licensing framework could be enforced, but a wide range of Finnish politicians and Veikkaus itself support the reform. Finnish igaming legal expert Antti Koivula estimated in January 2023 that implementing a new licensing framework would take “at least nine months, possibly more.”
Implications for the iGaming Market in Finland
The transition to a partial-license model in Finland will have several implications for iGaming in Finland:
- Create new opportunities for international operators to enter the Finnish market, increasing competition and potentially leading to more diverse and innovative gaming offerings.
- Will likely prompt the industry to place greater emphasis on responsible gambling and player protection measures, aligning with the regulatory frameworks of other European countries.
- Introduction of new marketing restrictions will necessitate more targeted and responsible advertising strategies from operators, ensuring that their marketing efforts are in line with consumer preferences and regulatory expectations.