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Finland launches legislative project ahead of gambling reform

| By Richard Mulligan
Finland’s government has outlined the legislative pathway towards the creation of a regulated gambling market by 2026.

The ministry of the interior has set up a project that will guide the reform of the Finland gambling system as it prepares for the introduction of a licence system.

State-owned Veikkaus’ gaming monopoly will come to an end, with private companies to operate under a gambling licensing model.

The programme begins the process of regulation that the Orpo government has pursued since Finland’s general election in April 2023. The government’s plans are informed by a preliminary study of the gambling system and alternative models, completed in April.

Finland government to draw up gambling legislative proposals

Over the next two years, the government will draw up legislative proposals for the reform of the gambling system. This will include the games covered by the licence system, the licence fees and taxation and gambling management tools.

Other rules will cover gambling-related harm, as well as the control and marketing of gambling activities.

The government have set up a political steering group and an intersectoral working group including key ministries and authorities for the project. In addition, the project will consult experts from different sectors.

The ministry said its aim is to submit a proposal on the reform to parliament in the spring of 2025. The project will run until 31 December 2025.

The government wants to increase Finland’s channelisation rate, which is low compared to peer countries according to the preliminary study.

A ministry spokesperson said: “The aim of the reform is to prevent and reduce the harm resulting from gambling and to improve the channelling rate of the gambling system in accordance with the government programme.

The channelling rate describes the proportion of gambling stakes placed with regulated providers that hold a local licence.”

Government presented with two paths of reform

According to the information garnered during the study period, gambling outside the monopoly system has increased and causes significant gambling-related harm.

The study presented two options for developing the gambling system – strengthening the current gambling monopoly system or switching to a licence model for online casino games and online betting.

The government will end Veikkaus’ monopoly within online casino games and online betting. It is thought Veikkaus will retain its monopoly status for the lottery and retail slot machines.

According to the government programme, the monopoly activities remaining with Veikkaus and the activities in the competitive market will be separated into different companies within the same group.

The project will also investigate the transfer of game machines to separate controlled areas in accordance with the government programme.

A ministry spokesperson said: “The aim is to strengthen supervision of the gambling industry when entering the licence system. The preparation will take into account the social impacts of the licence system, especially the impacts on gambling-related harm.”

Earlier this year, Veikkaus said it expects to cut jobs and close gaming arcades as part of its preparations for the end of the country’s gambling monopoly.

Veikkaus warned that the restructure could lead to the loss of approximately 240 jobs. The operator also plans to reduce the number of its gaming venues from 65 to between 40 and 50. 

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