In Finland, gambling has traditionally only been in Veikkaus’ hands, which has held a monopoly position. This means other operators cannot organize or market gambling-related activities in the domestic market.
Although efforts have been made to maintain the monopoly, it was broken years ago. Players more frequently visit foreign online casinos because of bonuses and better game selection. High-quality gaming places are sought through comparison websites, for example, where Kasinohai has become particularly popular among gamblers.
As the popularity of online casinos increases, Finland is also considering shifting to a license model.
If so, what does it mean for the players? Read more about the topic and what the future holds below.
Veikkaus’ monopoly broke down in Finland years ago
The Nordic countries have traditionally organized gambling through a monopoly system. This means only one company can organize gambling activities in the country. In Finland, Veikkaus is the only company that lawfully organizes gambling activities in the domestic market.
In Finland, however, gambling is not prohibited or restricted by law from the gamblers’ perspective, so it is perfectly legitimate to gamble in foreign online casinos. Digitalisation has opened up new opportunities for those interested in gambling, as the range of casinos and games has grown considerably more versatile than just Veikkaus’ games.
However, this has led to the breakdown of Veikkaus’ monopoly position years ago. An increasing proportion of the money spent on gambling flows abroad, raising decision-makers’ awareness.
A few years ago, an attempt was made to resolve the issue by tightening the Finnish Lottery Act. As a result of this, more attention was paid to marketing done by online casinos, and more robust means of supervision were introduced. In practice, when an online casino markets its website to Finnish players, the result may be blocking payments from domestic banks to the casino.
However, this has not yielded any significant results, so the new government has started looking in different directions. At the moment, Veikkaus’ monopoly will likely be partially dismantled in the next few years.
Options include either tightening the monopoly position or switching to a license model
The license model has received surprising support, as Veikkaus has also announced its support for the reform, as this would make all operators comply with the same rules.
The new government has only begun its term of office, but a separate working group has already started to examine the future of gambling. Currently, options include either tightening the monopoly position or switching to a license model. Examples of both are found in neighboring countries.
In recent years, the Norwegian government has decided to tighten the monopoly in many ways. The marketing of foreign online casinos is not allowed at all, which has reduced the visibility of gambling. There are strict cut-off limits for players regarding how much they can lose in Norsk Tipping’s games.
Norway has also managed to target gambling more and more towards the monopoly system, and the amount of money spent on games outside its system has decreased.
For its part, Sweden switched to a license model a few years ago when Spelinspektione’s monopoly was dismantled. The transition has surprised decision-makers positively, as the tax revenues of the new system have been even higher than expected.
Should we follow Sweden’s model?
In Finland, the change is only beginning, but for the time being, it seems likely that the monopoly will be partially broken down. The aim is to keep the popular Lotto games and slot machines in Veikkaus’s hands while other games of chance could be opened up to competition.
If a license model is chosen, at least part of the model will likely be taken from Sweden. Although foreign online casinos can now operate on the Swedish market, the license requirements are very strict.
Each online casino operating in the Swedish market must meet these requirements and pay tax revenue to the State on gaming. This tax revenue is used in the same way as the revenue generated by Spelinspektione to support sports and prevent gambling disadvantages.
One of the unique features of the Swedish license is that it is limited to the Swedish market. It differs from licenses granted by the Maltese or Estonian gaming authorities, and the casino often also has to hold another license for other markets.
The licence model opens up the market but may also impose restrictions
Players have been calling for dismantling the monopoly position in Finland for several years. Sweden’s transition to the license model has increased hopes that Finland will take the same line. However, following the Swedish model may lead to several restrictions on gambling in addition to liberalization.
An example of these restrictions is the mandatory limits for deposits or losses. In Sweden, it is no longer easy to change these limits once they have been set.
The Swedish model also strictly restricts bonuses. Each operator may offer only one bonus to the player, considerably reducing the chances for players to benefit from them.
It should also be noted that the restriction applies to the operator, not the casino. One operator may have more than one casino site, but the player can only take advantage of the bonus in one of these.
The Swedish license model has not survived without criticism
The Swedish model has received a lot of criticism, particularly from the players. The model is considered particularly restrictive when gambling is restricted regarding deposits, losses, and bonuses.
Finland’s policies are still unclear, but the change to the license model seems more likely than ever. However, the reports have so far raised more questions than answers.
The Swedish model has many good features, such as strict requirements in terms of safety. Swedish players can trust that a licensed online casino is safe and reliable.
However, too strict restrictions tend to divert players outside the licensing system. Hopefully, the future system in Finland will benefit both casinos and players. In this way, both casinos and gamblers can be satisfied that the market is finally being opened up.
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