It only took one reading of the new Lottery Act for the Parliament of Finland (Suomen eduskunta) to approve changes to the country’s gambling industry. The result is stricter controls regarding offshore operators and more safeguards for the monopoly held by Veikkaus.
The first reading of the measure took place in mid-December. One more reading of the bill is required before it can be sent to the president for consideration. If the president signs the bill, it becomes law.
Including in the Lottery Act is the creation of a payment blocking system against operators aside from Veikkaus. With this new system in place, the National Police Board can block payments to gambling operators and individuals.
A blacklist, also known as a payment blocking list, will be created in 2022. While the list will be set up next year, the actual blocking process will not start until 2023. The system will only block payments from Finland residents to the operators on the blacklist. Players will still be able to receive payments from blacklisted operators, helping to remove funds from previously used accounts.
Marketing regulations are also under consideration within the Lottery Act. Advertising connected to games that are considered harmful will be banned. This includes slot games.
Payment Blocking Provisions Deemed Controversial
While the Lottery Act passed within its first reading, the payment blocking provisions of the measure were considered controversial by the Constitutional Committee of Finland. The group argues that this portion of the measure is unconstitutional.
The Administrative Committee argues that the bill should consider a review of the monopoly system of Veikkaus. This committee wants to see payment blocking applied towards payments to operators instead of player transactions. The group also wants to see the payments made by Veikkaus going to the general budget fund instead of being used for other causes.
European Gaming and Betting Association secretary-general Maarten Haijer criticized the measure, stating the bill’s payment blocking element will help the monopoly of Veikkaus while players are looking to access gaming via other operators.
Haijer called the payment blocking section of the bill an admission that gamblers in Finland prefer to bet with other operators rather than the state-operated services. The secretary-general said players are on the hunt for other betting options for various reasons, including more diversity, better odds, and product expertise.
The European Gaming and Betting Association is encouraging parliament to reconsider the online gambling monopoly model and work towards creating a well-regulated multi-licensing model so that players have more options for gambling.
The Association feels that residents of Finland will choose offshore options, especially since Veikkaus has introduced wagering limits. Offshore operators do not have such limits, making their services much more appealing.
Veikkaus has maintained a monopoly on gambling in Finland for over seventy years. According to EGBA, it is time that government officials review the current monopoly and make changes so that the online betting industry in Finland can move forward with its and offer similar options to other European countries, creating a solid market that players enjoy.