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Paf backs call for regulatory overhaul in Finland

| By Robert Fletcher
Åland Islands-based operator Paf has declared its support for an overhaul of gambling regulation in Finland, urging authorities to introduce a new igaming licensing system to help clamp down on illegal operators.
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At present, state-owned Veikkuas holds a monopoly in Finland’s online gambling market, with no other operators legally permitted to offer igaming to players in the country.

However, authorities have faced calls to end the Veikkaus monopoly in order to open up the market and allow other operators to legally access the country.

Paf chief executive Christer Fahlstedt has now spoken out in support of an end to the monopoly, pointing out that all countries in the European Union have a gambling licensing system in place, with the exception of Finland.

Writing in Finnish newspaper Kauppalehti, Fahlstedt pointed out that Sweden and Denmark found themselves in a similar situation to Finland. After each country opened up their markets to private operators, they have seen tax revenue from gambling rise significantly.

“Finland could build a regulated licensing system that serves Finnish society and enables gamblers to exclude games and gambling ads,” Fahlstedt said. “With a licensing system for online gaming, Veikkaus would have an equal competitive position in online gaming as other foreign competitors, who would be subject to the strict regulation in Finland.”

Fahlstedt acknowledged a number of regulatory changes that are already set to come into effect, including mandatory identification requirements that will see players have to identify themselves before being permitted to gambling at retail venues from 2023.

However, Fahlstedt noted that with the measures set to cut Veikkaus’ revenues by around €150m per year, this will have an impact on the organisations that the monopoly supports, such as social, sports and youth bodies.

Instead, Fahlstedt said that by introducing a licensing system, this would allow authorities to impose new social responsibility requirements on operators.

“It would be possible to include a loss limit for all gaming operators within the licensing system,” he explained. “The system could also restrict advertising in media as well as outdoors and at different events, in particular to protect minors.

“This would be a significant improvement for gambling addicts compared to the current situation, where it is impossible to avoid gaming advertising in everyday life.”

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