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Finland prepares for liberalised gaming market in 2027

| By nicolemacedo
Commercial gambling operators will be active in Finland by early 2027, according to a draft gambling bill presented by the country’s ministry of the interior.
Finland parliament building

The government initially set out plans to end Veikkaus’ current monopoly by the end of 2026. The new market will then launch in 2027.

A bill currently being compiled by the ministry of the interior will be presented during the Finnish parliament’s 2025 spring session. It said the aim for the bill and subsequent legislation was to “prevent and reduce gambling disadvantages and to improve the channeling of demand into the legally regulated gambling system”.  

If the bill is approved, operators will be able to apply for licences from early 2026 and suppliers for software provider licences from early 2027. Both operators and suppliers will be required to pay annual fees to a newly established supervisory authority, although it’s unclear if a tax rate has been set.

Timeline for implementation

The government set out a three-year timeline to implement the full market:

18 August 2024 – Closing date of the government-run consultation process, which is currently seeking feedback from the wider sector.

Q1 2025 – Government proposal for the draft bill to be submitted to parliament in the spring session of 2025. This typically takes place in February.

Q1 2026 – Operator licence applications open.

Q4 2026 – End of monopoly provider Veikkaus’ hold over sports betting and online casino games. The company will be split into two entities: one running a monopoly for lottery and land-based gaming and the other competing in the online market.

Early 2027 – Suppliers will be able to apply for software licences to provide online games in the market. Provision of licensed gambling activities may start.

2028 – Operators will only be able to offer games from locally licensed software providers.

New regulator to oversee liberalisation process

At present, gambling in Finland is overseen by the National Police Board but this system will be overhauled. The ministry of finance has been charged with establishing a new supervisory authority with a range of powers to regulate the market.

As part of the law, the supervisory authority will seek to restrict black market offerings by blocking online and payment traffic, with a view to funnelling demand to licensed operators. 

It will oversee restrictions around marketing and advertising. According to a government statement, “the amount, scope, visibility and frequency of marketing should be moderate and necessary to direct gambling demand to licensed gambling activities”.

The new authority will seek to put in place a centralised self-exclusion register for players to exclude themselves from all offerings in the market, while the government also suggested that unlicensed overseas advertising will be banned.

“Foreign marketing of gambling games with a high risk of harm would be prohibited,” the statement said. “Marketing should not be aimed at minors or persons in an otherwise vulnerable position.”

Could parts of Veikkaus be up for sale?

The long-awaited bill details the end of Finland’s online betting and gaming monopoly Veikkaus as the company will be split into various business arms, similar to Sweden’s former monopoly operator Svenska Spel. This may even see certain elements sold off, the ministry of the interior suggested.

“With the proposed legislation, the state owner would be enabled to have more room for manoeuvre in the future ownership decisions of Veikkaus. The state would have the opportunity to give up part of its ownership in Veikkaus, if this was considered justified in the future from the perspective of the development of the state’s shareholder value,” it said.  

However, Veikkaus will maintain exclusivity over lottery, toto games (lottery-based sports betting), land-based slot machines and scratchcards and will be required to pay an annual fee for exclusivity rights.  

Working group and industry consultation

The government has established a working group for the process and is requesting feedback from the industry and government departments for its proposals, including taxation, licensing procedures, marketing and Veikkaus’ position in the market. The window for comments closes on 18 August.

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