The Finnish state-owned betting agency Veikkaus announced it embraces a recent government study’s recommendation to introduce reforms on the state monopoly on gambling in the country. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Olli Sarekoski welcomed the findings of the study, which looked into the state of Finland’s monopolized gambling market and concluded that maintaining the current monopoly model is not a viable option. Sarekoski also highlighted the massive scope of the offshore gaming industry and approved the recommendation to introduce a licensing system that would improve the country’s channeling rates.
The recently published report evaluated the current gambling monopoly in Finland and examined various alternative models of the gambling system. According to the findings, the number of local players who resort to gambling with offshore websites has remained relatively stable in recent years. Between 5% and 6% of the population places bets with offshore gambling operators, the study showed. Even so, the amount of money spent on such unauthorized sites is significant. It ranges from €500 million to €550 million per year, which accounts for approximately 50% of all online gambling in the country.
Apart from financial losses, offshore gambling causes other serious issues but resolving them effectively is challenging under the current monopoly framework. The study compared Finland’s current framework with those of five other countries, namely France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Out of the five, Norway is the only country with a monopoly. The other four have adopted licensing systems for online gambling This step has resulted in improved channelization for licensed operators and a significant decline in offshore gambling.
Consumer Channeling Is Unlikely to Improve under the Current Monopoly Model
The study showed that the channeling capability of Finland’s gambling industry is unlikely to improve substantially in the near future without reforming the current monopoly framework. The report suggests two courses of action. The first option is similar to the Norwegian model and involves strengthening the restrictions on offshore gambling to more effectively prevent local consumers from betting on unauthorized sites.
The second option is to introduce a licensing system similar to those implemented in Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The study suggests that one such licensing system could yield better results when it comes to channeling more consumers toward legal gambling sites. However, the study claims it would be difficult to reliably evaluate the potential impact the introduction of a licensing model could have on problem gambling. Increased competition could result in an increase in overall gambling consumption.
Regardless of which course of action the government decides to take, it would be guided by the principle of minimizing gambling-related harm, the report concluded. In practice, this translates into imposing restrictions on gambling advertising, establishing a properly funded regulatory body, launching a nationwide self-exclusion scheme, and enforcing obligatory identity verification for all consumers.
The government has proposed various restrictive measures that aim to strengthen the current monopoly’s operation. Most of those are connected to the changes introduced to the country’s gambling legislation that are expected to come into force later this year. However, the report suggests that the main problem with such measures is that local players could easily circumvent them if they wish.