Tech that's Shaping Finland's New Economy
Just like anywhere else, Finland is home to countless gaming and sports betting enthusiasts.
18:03 09 April 2020
The number of online gambling platforms available to the country today can be counted in the hundreds, if not thousands. This gives the Finnish gambling market a considerable size of around EUR 400 billion.
There is one state-owned gambling company in Finland, known as Veikkaus Oy, and they have the sole right to offer gambling services and perform related marketing activities. They are responsible for not only instant-win games and sports betting, but also the national lottery. As a result, Veikkaus Oy has a state-controlled monopoly in its country.
Following is an overview of the other major entities responsible for gaming in Finland. We will also take a look at the state of licensed and unlicensed gambling sites, as well as the future outlook of Finnish regulation.
Gambling Entities in Finland
Finland is home to a trio of official gambling entities, each responsible for a specific form of gaming. The same entities are solely responsible for all sanctioned gambling sites in the country.
RAY provides the nation with land-based gaming establishments. The entity holds the monopoly for everything related to brick-and-mortar casinos. This includes slots, table games and traditional games such as blackjack.
Fintoto Oy handles all matters related to pari mutuel horse racing.
Aside from Veikkaus Oy, which we touched on above, there is also PAF. They oversee gambling activities in the Åland Province of Finland, a region of 6700 islands around the Black Sea that operates independently of the country it’s part of. It’s easy to initially view this monopolised approach as a bad thing, but it’s far from that.
One fact that proves this is that these four organisations use the profits they earn to support social projects in Finland. This includes arts, science, sports and education.
The only gambling sites recognised by the government in Finland are run by PAF and RAY, with the latter holding the monopoly over the mainland, while PAF handles operations in Åland Province. It’s not uncommon to see news of disagreements between Finland and the European Union regarding the country’s monopoly on gaming.
This is largely due to the EU’s stance on free trade between member nations, which makes Finland appear overly-restrictive when it comes to dealings with neighbouring operators. As for whether proper action will ever be taken against the country, it’s anybody’s guess.
Many unlicensed gambling sites accept paying Finnish players. No legal mechanisms are in place to prevent this. Moreover, there is nothing in Finnish law stipulating that residents cannot place a bet with unlicensed organisations. This means Finns have complete freedom to play on any gambling site based outside of their home country.
Many of the world’s most popular gambling entities have capitalised on this, accepting players and providing a Finnish language option to ensure an enjoyable experience. Galaksino is one such example and is actually geared directly towards Finns. Winnings are tax-free and available to players within 15 minutes, making it even more compelling.
Considering the triviality of the issue, it’s highly unlikely that the Finnish government will ever ‘crack down’ on these types of operations in the aim of ensuring their monopoly. The EU has already warned the country to lighten up, and it’s difficult to see such a minor problem turning into a serious conflict.
Future of Finnish Gambling Regulation
At the moment, a reform is in progress on the Act of Lotteries. This will prompt gambling providers to identify their customers in the future. A consequence of this is that slot machines will only be usable if the player has a gaming account with the abovementioned Veikkaus organisation. That said, it probably won’t affect any online casinos.
There is also consideration of a preliminary study on the introduction of technical limitations on the transfer of funds. If successful, Finnish players will be unable to access their winnings on gambling sites based in other countries. This may also give rise to IP-blocking, whereby players won’t be able to access sites based abroad at all.
Only time will tell whether these regulatory changes will ever come to fruition. For now, Finns can enjoy a relative freedom when it comes to online and land-based gaming.