The new Government of Finland has unveiled plans to loosen the grip of Veikkaus’ gambling monopoly in the country in less than three years.
The new Government has announced that it intends to implement some reforms to the country’s gambling sector, opening the Finnish gambling market up to competition with a license model by January 1st, 2026 at the latest. This decision has not been quite shocking to industry insiders, with even some people within Veikkaus having acknowledged that the existing gambling monopoly was not exactly effective.
As revealed by Finland lawmakers, the scope of the new gambling license system would basically include online casino games and sports betting. The exclusive operations of Veikkaus and the operations in competitive markets are set to be separated into different operators within the same gambling group, with the separation pretty much resembling the division of the country’s gambling industry until 2017.
According to the new Finnish Government, the existing gambling policy has proved itself unsuccessful, with more local customers having switched to unlicensed gaming options that are not only unregulated but also fail to protect customers from potential gambling-related harm. For the time being, the country’s gambling monopoly holds a market share of approximately 50% and continues to lose ground, while the influence of unlicensed offshore companies increases.
It seems that offshore gambling companies are getting increasingly popular among local customers. Unfortunately, such operators do not pay any taxes or license fees to the country, not to mention that they remain unregulated, so they are not legally obliged to comply with various responsible gambling initiatives unveiled by the Government or the sector’s regulator. As reports claim, Finland is potentially losing tens of millions every year due to the lack of regulation of offshore gambling companies, while local consumers remain unprotected against potential harm associated with such companies’ operations.
Current Gambling Monopoly Holder Backs the Planned Gambling Sector Overhaul
Although the new Government plans to bring some changes to the gambling industry overhaul, it still has to lay out some of the finer details of the planned changes. According to preliminary reports, it plans to issue online casinos and online sportsbook licenses to offshore companies, with a mandatory and singular self-exclusion option unveiled as part of the operators’ licensing agreements. In other words, Finnish lawmakers plan to bring changes that would make the local gambling market operate in a way similar to other gambling industries around the world.
For the time being, the number of online casino and sportsbook licenses that may be issued remains unknown. The Government has not unveiled any details about their associated fees as well. Local legislators are now set to start laying out the framework that would eventually allow the changes to come into force in the next three years. As mentioned above, the new gambling regulation is set to increase the gambling market’s supervision and provide better support in terms of gambling-related harm and problem gambling.
Even though the planned changes are likely to cease its monopoly in the country’s gambling sector, Vekkaus has openly backed the measures. Considering the fact that it has lost its position in online gambling as a result of unregulated and unlicensed companies luring local gamblers out there, a more competitive licensed market could help it regain its popularity among Finnish residents.
Still, there have been some who have not supported the Government’s gambling overhaul initiative, saying that such a move could be a really bad idea. Earlier this year, some scientists from the Finnish Institute of Health published a blog post on the matter, saying that the planned opening of Finland’s gambling market would have a much more negative effect that a positive outcome. The authors of the blog post hinted that the planned reforms have been politically motivated.
At the time, researchers such as Tomi Roukan and Jani Selini warned that boosting the number of operators who offer legal gambling services would affect not only the number of available gambling products but also the amount of advertising in the country, making Finns subject to much more pressure by bombarding them with various adverts encouraging them to spend more money on these services, raising the rates of experienced gambling-related harm.