Finland Looking to End Veikkaus Oy Monopoly

Law & Politics Legislation
Alan Campbell

Updated by Alan Campbell

Last Updated 8th Jul 2024, 04:38 PM

Finland Looking to End Veikkaus Oy Monopoly

The Finnish Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, announces plans to end Veikkaus Oy’s monopoly on online gaming and sports betting. (Image: Sipa us / Alamy)

The government of Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has declared its intention to gradually end the monopoly that state-owned operator Veikkaus Oy currently enjoys in online casino and sports betting.

Orpo is a member of the center-right National Coalition Party and leads a coalition administration in partnership with the right-leaning Finns Party, Christian Democrats and Swedish People's Party. The 54-year-old assumed his nation’s highest political office in June of last year after pledging to carry out a program of social security and labor market reforms.


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Dubious Domination

Veikkaus Oy was established in 2017 and is responsible for all online casino and sports betting activities as well as the 32-year-old Casino Helsinki facility and a collection of more than 10,000 slots at sites spread across the country of some 5.6 million people. 

The government declared that ‘a significant portion of online gambling nonetheless takes place outside this monopoly system’ with foreign enterprises offering entertainment ‘not covered by national regulation or supervision by the authorities’.

Draft legislation drawn up by the Scandinavian nation’s Interior Ministry is now looking to dismantle this monopoly by allowing commercial enterprises to obtain annual licenses for the provision of online casino games and sports betting. As currently written, the proposal would also require software firms to obtain similar certification should they wish to supply their wares to Finnish punters.

Reasoned Rational

The Interior Ministry affirmed these planned changes are part of larger reforms to the ‘government program’ and are to see Finland open up its gambling market ‘to competition by means of licensing’. The government department asserted the move will furthermore help reduce the prevalence of gambling-related harms and allow the nation ‘to increase the channelling of demand to a regulated gambling system’.

“Gambling games could be run with an exclusive licence or a gambling game licence,” read a statement from the Interior Ministry. 

“The supply of the game software used in gambling games would, moreover, be subject to a game software licence and licence holders would be required to pay an annual supervision fee to the supervisory authority.” 

Reduced Remit 

However, the proposed legislation does not want to completely consign Veikkaus Oy to the dustbin of history, as it recommends keeping the government-controlled firm’s monopoly on pool and totalizator betting in addition to all lotteries, scratchcards and land-based casino gaming. The Interior Ministry maintained this would give the nation ‘greater latitude’ regarding any decisions concerning the operator’s future ownership.

“It would be possible for the state to relinquish part of its holdings in Veikkaus Oy if, going forward, this was deemed justified in terms of the development of the state’s shareholder value,” read the Interior Ministry’s statement. “The proposed legislation would not automatically result in a reduction in state ownership.”

Amplified Administration

The Interior Ministry stated the proposed legislation additionally calls for the establishment of a new regulator with ‘a broad set of powers’ to license and oversee online casino games and sports betting. This body has been provisionally named as the Finnish Supervisory Agency and would be joined by a fresh set of rules on advertising and a requirement for all online punters to be registered.

As tabled, the draft measure would furthermore oblige all licensed online casino and sports betting operators to accurately verify the age and identities of their customers and honor an envisioned centralized self-exclusion system. Finally, it would look to lay out rules designed to prevent punters from utilizing third-party accounts to place wagers or enjoy games of chance.

“The Finnish Supervisory Agency could also impose administrative fines and financial penalties for unlawful activities,” the statement from the Interior Ministry read. 

“In addition, the Finnish Supervisory Agency would supervise operators to ensure their compliance with the legislation on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Incremental Introduction 

The draft legislation is currently out for consultation, with a final deadline of August 18. The Interior Ministry revealed it is hopeful of being able to present the polished version to parliamentarians ‘in the spring session of 2025’ before beginning to initiate its changes in stages, beginning with the licensing of online casinos from ‘the beginning of 2026’.

Should this timetable go according to plan, the Interior Ministry stated licensed commercial online casino and sports betting operations could begin going live in Finland ‘from the beginning of 2027’ with Veikkaus Oy maintaining its monopoly in the interim. The government department finished by explaining software licencing could start from the same time, with the obligation to offer only certified games ‘as from the beginning of 2028’.

 

Meet The Author

Alan Campbell
Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell has been reporting on the global gambling industry ever since graduating from university in the late-1990s with degrees in journalism, English and history. Now headquartered in the northern English city of Sheffield, he has written on a plethora of topics, companies, regulatory developments and technological innovations for a large number of traditional and digital publications from around the planet.

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