Finnish Government Sets Gambling Reform Project in Motion

Finnish Government Sets Gambling Reform Project in MotionThe national betting company of Finland, Veikkaus, is set to no longer be the sole operator permitted to offer online gambling to Finnish gaming and sports betting enthusiasts. Finland’s Ministry of the Interior is moving forward with a gambling reform project that will make it possible for independent gambling operators to obtain licenses and operate within the country legally.

Earlier this year, a government study on the Finnish gaming sphere’s current monopoly status examined how effective two possible approaches to curbing illegal offshore gambling would be. The first one entailed sticking to the monopoly model and introducing stricter measures like the prohibition of ads, the restriction of payments, and the blocking of offshore websites. The other option involved doing away with the monopoly system and, instead, adopting a licensing model.

According to the study, the latter would be better suited for preventing Finnish gambling enthusiasts from seeking out illegitimate gaming companies. Soon after, the government announced its plans to introduce a licensing system for independent operators, and now the legislators’ official project for making this a reality is underway.

The New Licensing Model will be Implemented by 2026

Finland’s government officials will prepare legislation proposals that will outline which gambling games will be covered under the new legislation and how gaming companies will be taxed. Licensing fees will be outlined and prepared as well. The government will also address issues such as problem gambling. In addition, a steering committee and an intersectional working group have been established. According to the Ministry of the Interior, a proposal’s submission is intended for early 2025, and current plans point to 31 December, 2025 as the project’s end date.

The ministry aims to mitigate and outright prevent the potential harmful consequences of gambling with the reform, as stated by a spokesperson of the ministry. It was also highlighted that Finland’s channelisation rate, i.e., the rate of how many bets are placed at legitimate gambling operations as opposed to illegal ones, is relatively low and warrants improvement.

This summer, the Swedish channelisation rate was found to be approximately 77%, which was considered low. In contrast, the channelisation rate of Finland’s monopoly is 50%, as shown in the government study.

Veikkaus Will Continue to Exist After the Licensing Model Becomes a Reality

The government’s project will revolutionize the gambling landscape in Finland, and the system will undergo significant changes. This does not mean that Veikkaus will no longer be in operation once 2026 rolls around, however. Instead, the company will be split into different gambling companies that would fall under the Veikkaus group.

Furthermore, it seems that Finnish officials’ main targets when it comes to the monopoly system of Finland’s gaming sector are online gaming and remote sports betting. It is currently assumed that Veikkaus will maintain its function as a monopoly when it comes to the country’s lottery, and the same can be said about the operation of slot machines within brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.

Nonetheless, the company will likely suffer consequences from the licensing model, and preparations have been made for job cuts and the closure of Veikkaus land-based businesses. In September, the operator announced that around 240 job positions could be terminated, while plans suggest that between 40 and 50 retail gaming locations will be left after licensing of independent operators commences, compared to the current 65. In spite of this, Olli Sarekoski, the CEO of Veikkaus, did clarify that the intentions behind the possible changes have to do with achieving the company’s goal of being competitive under the new system and becoming the “most successful gambling company” in the country.