Changes proposed to the Finnish Lotteries Act

During the last week of September, the Finnish Government proposed major changes to the Finnish Lotteries Act. The goal of these changes is to reduce the adverse effects of gambling in Finland by strengthening the gambling monopoly of Veikkaus which is the Finnish national betting agency. The proposed changes are targeted to the advertising of gambling as well as redirecting Finnish gamblers to the games and services of Veikkaus.

The most central proposed change concerns restricting the advertising of gambling. According to the current Lotteries Act, only the gambling games and services of Veikkaus can be advertised but the prohibition to advertise other gambling games and services has been widely circumvented by many gambling service providers in Finland. Thus, the Finnish government has proposed that a payment transaction ban could be imposed on gambling service providers that circumvent the prohibition of advertisement which would mean that banks and other payment service providers cannot execute payment transactions to these gambling service providers. The ban would require that the gambling service provider is on a so-called ban-list which would be maintained by the National Police Board of Finland. Placement on the ban-list would require a separate injunction by the National Police Board. The prohibition of advertising and a possibility to impose a penalty payment would also be extended to private persons for example social media influencers.

In addition, the Finnish government has proposed that all gambling services must have a mandatory identification method for customers. The proposal does not however elaborate how this would be implemented to other gambling services than Veikkaus. The proposal would also allow the National Police Board temporarily to prohibit the offering of certain gambling services if the legal protection of consumers or the supervision ensuring this is compromised.

The proposed changes will make it significantly harder to offer any other non-Veikkaus gambling services in Finland and will strengthen the monopoly on Veikkaus in Finland. However, it remains to be seen for how long there exists valid grounds for the Finnish gambling monopoly, and whether gambling operators from other EU countries at some point start to dispute the legal grounds for the monopoly.

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