Gambling Laws in Finland – Is Online Gambling Legal in 2022?

Finland is a rich European country with a population of a little over 5.5 million people. Statistics show that the country boasts one of the highest gambling rates in its part of the world. While offline and online gambling in Finland is acceptable, the local legislation is still quite restrictive by favoring the local industry at the expense of offshore operators.

In this article, we will explore the specifics of Finland’s gambling laws and the restrictions imposed by the legislative framework.


History of Gambling in Finland

gambling in finland

Gambling has been a part of the Finnish entertainment landscape for a long time. Its origins date back to the 17th century. However, between 1899 and 1917, the country banished betting activities. In 1917, the state allowed gambling once more. Nonetheless, at present, all wagering activities within the state are highly regulated by the Lotteries Act. The overseeing body is the Gambling Department of The National Police Board (Arpajaishallinto).

The country favors domestic operators within the Veikkaus Oy, which in 2017 united the RAY (the Finnish Slot Machine Association, casino operator), Fintoto (horse racing betting), and Veikkaus (lottery). Gambling on the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland, is regulated by the PAF (Penningautomatförening). PAF is also state-owned and is responsible for providing Internet gambling and casino cruise ships in the Baltic and the North Sea.

On January 1, 2022, the new Finnish Lottery Act stepped into force to further strengthen the monopoly of the Veikkaus Oy. We will provide a full overview of the new restrictions in the following sections.

What is interesting to note in the case of Finland is that the country has been able to overrule the EU’s objections against monopoly on the grounds that gambling is non-profit. However, this is not precisely the case. Finnish gambling indeed supports many charitable causes, but there is still some revenue for the government.


Gambling Statistics in Finland

As we already pointed out, Finns are pretty active in gambling. Here are some recent statistics to back this claim:

  • In 2020, the Finnish gambling market hit a total gross win of approximately €1.6 billion. This number scores amongst the highest per capita wins globally.
  • The country has one of the highest numbers of gamblers per capita worldwide. Close to 80% of its legally-aged residents are involved in gambling.
  • Almost 3% of Finnish gamblers are problem players, while 11% are at risk of becoming such.

The New Finnish Lottery Act

finnish lottery act

Although the state has held a monopoly over domestic gambling for a long time already, offshore operators were able to circumvent the law. They used guerilla marketing strategies to attract the local players, who have not been actually prosecuted for playing at offshore casino websites.

The recent Finnish gambling reform has been aimed precisely at restricting the advertising activities of offshore companies. According to the 2022 legislative changes, The National Police Board (NPB) will now be able to blacklist gambling companies that flout the marketing standards imposed by the Lotteries Act.

Such operators will be punished by payment blocking, meaning gamblers will not be able to make payments to them. NPB will start compiling the blacklist in 2022, and the blockages will effectively take place in 2023.

In addition, marketing regulation violators will be financially penalized. Nonetheless, they can escape the fines if they remove their illicit advertising immediately. For some offshore companies, this move means they will no longer be able to use social media influencers to promote their casino businesses as they have done until now.

That said, we must clarify that while NPB can block payments to blacklisted operators, they will not be able to stop transactions from the companies to punters within Finland. This means that – if you are a Finnish player – you will still be able to withdraw your winnings from a blacklisted offshore online casino. Still, the question remains as to how you will be able to make deposits.

A grey area in the new law refers to cryptocurrency payments. It is still questionable how the Finnish government could potentially ban them since they are not governed by banks and payment providers.


Conclusion

As is obvious, the Finnish government works hard to strengthen the state’s monopoly on gambling. The claim is that the new measures are aimed towards promoting responsible gambling in the country with one of the wagering highest rates in the world.

However, such rigorous measures work against private betting businesses and discourage competition. This could have a potentially negative effect on the overall quality of gambling services and products Finnish players get access to.

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