Finland Shows Preference for State-Run Gambling

It is no news that the Nordic countries and players from the region have become particularly attractive to international gambling companies. And Finland has often been referred to as one of Europe’s biggest gambling markets. However, unlike many European jurisdictions, the country has been holding on tight on its monopoly regulatory system and there are no serious indications that the status quo will change anytime soon.

The results from a recent report commissioned by Finnish media outlet Yle and compiled by market research firm Taloustutkimus showed that 66% of all interviewed Finns spoke in favor of the monopoly regime and did not want it to be changed. Yle pointed out that that group of respondents was comprised mainly of older members of the population.

Younger interviewees, on the other hand, were more open to the introduction of a licensing system that would allow international gambling operators to operate in a regulated environment. Such operators are currently conducting operations in a gray zone.

Up until recently, regulated gambling operations were managed by three state-run entities – RAY for casino offering, Veikkaus Oy for lottery and betting, and Fintoto Oy for pari-mutuel betting. Earlier this year, these three were merged into a single state-run monopoly – Veikkaus.

As reported by Yle, Finns annually wager more than €10 billion on different gambling products, both live and online. A gambling chart by H2 Gambling Capital placed Finnish players among the biggest gamblers, based on loss per resident adult. According to said chart, Finns spent an estimated total of $2.2 billion in 2016. Gaming machines and online gambling were the most popular gambling options among local players.

The figures presented clearly show that there is a big demand for gambling in the country. And although in many European jurisdictions figures of this kind have encouraged lawmakers to open their markets for international operations, the case is slightly different in Finland.

Back in the early 2010s, the country was among those requested by the European Commission to implement certain changes in their gambling regulatory regimes so as to make sure that they are compliant with EU laws. Finland preferred changing its monopoly system in one way or another to scrapping it completely.

The changes were later on approved by EU officials and were deemed ones that did not come as a violation of the European treaty for free movement of goods within the bloc’s borders. In other words, Finland did not receive another slap on the wrist, unlike its neighbor Sweden, which was urged to review the state of its gambling industry and present regulatory amendments that would meet EU requirements.

It has recently become known that Sweden will put an end to the monopoly system and will probably open its regulated market in early 2019. However, the lack of the same pressure on Finland has certainly helped the country to maintain a firm stance on keeping the monopoly regime.

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