Finnish Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Tytti Tuppurainen, revealed in an interview that Finland will launch an investigation to end the state’s gambling monopoly. Tuppurainen said that she hopes that the investigation will commence at the beginning of 2023.
The minister also said that both the government and the opposing political parties are united in their standpoint that the state monopoly should come to an end. “As the minister of ownership, I myself hastened to make a report on a possible transition to a multi-license system,” said Tuppurainen, and added: “It is only a good thing that the opposition also shares this perception.”
The investigation is announced a few months before the country’s general elections. The minister advised that the investigation is to be launched to draft the transition to the license system before 2 April 2023. After the elections, any changes to the government may affect the transition process if there is no respective outline in place by this date, according to the Tuppurainen.
“There are parliamentary elections next spring, and it would be ideal that by the time of the government negotiations, we would have enough information to be able to make policies in the government negotiations,” she said.
Equal position for gambling providers:
Tuppurainen further explained that the introduction of the license system would bring all gambling providers into an equal position. Many non-licensed operators offer no player protection, while the state gambling operator, Veikkaus, has a range of strict limits set for deposits.
She also noted that the Finnish government does not generate any revenues from unlicensed gambling: “Right now the game companies from abroad operate as if in a wild grey zone. They are not subject to the same liability regulations that apply to Veikkaus,” said the minister, and added: “The situation naturally causes gambling disadvantages and at the same time the taxman’s hand is twisted, which means that the profits from gambling also go past Finland to foreign countries.”
Monopoly fails in monitoring:
Finland currently operates with a monopoly of the government-owned Veikkaus, which has rights to operate gambling including lottery and slot games. The entity was formed in 2017 when the previous three monopoly operators were merged into one company controlled by the state. The proposed transition would not impact Veikkaus’ monopoly on lottery, and land-based casino gaming, according to Sari Multala, MP for the National Coalition Party. She indicated that it is easier to regulate these verticals when there is only one provider.
“On the online side, the [current] regulation cannot achieve the goals we need. Monitoring is easier in the physical world than online,” said Multala.
Many industry groups have requested the Finnish monopoly system to end. The competent state authority has recently indicated that the current system is ”practically broken” and that the alternatives to Veikkaus’ monopoly should be considered.