Finland boasts a massive online gambling market for a country with a relatively small population of just 5.4 million people. Recent data released by H2 Gambling Capital puts total gaming revenue at just over €2 billion per year with this expected to grow in the coming years. Of that figure, an estimated €1 billion is generated by online gambling operators both local and offshore.
Here we take a look at local gambling laws and how the sports betting and race wagering industries are thriving in Finland.
Finland Betting Sites
Finland Gambling Laws
Most forms of gambling are legal in Finland; the country has one of the most liberal attitudes in Europe towards gambling and sports betting.
Previously, all forms of betting came under the purview of the following authorities:
- Fintoto Oy — Horse racing betting
- RAY — Land-based gambling and poker
- Veikkaus Oy — National lottery and sports betting
- Penningautomatförening (a.k.a. PAF or Play Among Friends) — Gambling in Åland Province
However, on January 1st, 2017, Fintoto Oy, RAY, and Veikkaus Oy were merged into one state-owned company called Veikkaus Oy or more commonly referred to as Veikkaus.
PAF remains in control of all gambling activities in the Åland Islands whereas Veikkaus oversees gambling throughout the rest of Finland.
While things seem quite straightforward now, this wasn’t always the case. At one point RAY alleged that PAF was infringing on their monopoly by offering its games over the internet. The government refused to shut down PAF’s online gambling operations, but it did eventually authorize the other three providers to operate their own betting websites.
However, since then, the government has decided that one authority for mainland Finland is a better approach to regulation. This led to the establishment of Veikkaus in 2017.
Finland’s online gambling laws are quite liberal and allow for practically any operator to offer their services in the country. This has led to a huge number of mobile sports betting apps and racebooks flooding the market. This has eaten into the profit margins of the government monopoly, but changing laws to prohibit offshore companies from entering the market isn’t quite so simple.
With this in mind, the government has moved to implement a law that blocks payment service providers from allowing payments from Finnish citizens to any gambling company that has breached marketing prohibitions in the Lotteries Act (1047/2001). While this move doesn’t outlaw offshore sportsbooks from operating in the country it effectively shuts them done.
The National Police Bureau began compiling a payment block list in January 2022 with payment blocking coming into effect in January 2023.
Prior to payment service provider blocking coming into play, Finnish gamblers were spoilt for choice with dozens of sports betting sites offering competitive odds on sports and horse racing from all over the world. However, now that the state monopoly has gained control of the market, all wagers on sports or horse racing must go through Veikkaus or PAF if located in the Åland Islands.
One positive thing about this move though is that profits from the state-owned monopolies are put to good use in Finland as opposed to lining the pockets of foreign, unlicensed operators.
In 2020, the Finnish government also introduced gambling limits in response to the significant rise in online gambling activity due to enforced lockdowns during the pandemic. These were originally meant to be a temporary measure designed to protect people from the harmful effects of problem gambling and to limit gambling losses.
According to the new limits, players can only lose a maximum of €500 each day with a monthly loss limit of €2,000 for each individual.
In 2021, Veikkaus confirmed that the limits were made permanent.
Finland Sports Betting Apps and Online Racebooks
There are quite a few sports betting apps that are available in Finland and technically speaking, they are allowed to operate within the country even when unlicensed. However, the government’s PSP blocking laws prevent local payment providers from allowing deposits to offshore online bookmakers.
As a result, there are only two licensed online sports betting and horse race wagering options available in the state that have full functionality.
- Veikkaus (on the mainland)
- PAF (Åland Islands)
While other online racebooks and sportsbooks may be accessible to Finnish players, with no deposit functionality, they have become nothing more than odds trackers.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.