Over the past year Finland has become a talking point with iGaming professionals around Europe. In the spring of 2020 the news hit the press: the government and its Ministry of the Interior were preparing a bill which would have tremendous effects not only for the Finnish gamblers but to the entire market and various organizations involved.
Gambling and Online Casinos Now
As shown by Laatukasinot, a reputable Finnish gambling site, there are currently nearly a hundred online casinos operating in the Finnish markets. However, there are some interesting characteristics that make the market quite unique.
Finland is one of the few European countries with a monopolized gambling system. Officially only one instance is allowed to run and operate an online casino, which is a government owned company Veikkaus. Online casinos that are being operated outside of Finland, are therefore not allowed to advertise in the public media, or have their offices in the country. However, the current Act cannot prohibit foreign companies from offering their gambling-related services to the Finnish players.
As one can imagine, having the status and position of a monopoly, Veikkaus has not had any need to upgrade its services or offerings in many years. It’s then quite obvious that foreign online casinos have become more and more appealing to the Finns – after all, many European online casinos have better offers, larger selection of games and even bigger wins.
For years Finnish iGaming professionals have been hoping for the government to change the system. Back in 2019, when Finland’s western neighbour went for a licence system, the hopes got up also in Finland. Maybe the example of Sweden would lead to the Finnish government to start finally considering the license system also in Finland, many seemed to think.
Government Plans to Create Payment Blocks
To everyone’s surprise this is not going to be the case. Instead, it appears that Finland has now decided to go in a completely different direction. Instead of opening up the markets and letting other companies operate in the iGaming field in Finland, and by bringing in tax revenue, the government is working with passing a bill for payment blocks.
The payment blocks will be stated in the reform of the Act on Lotteries, which is still in progress. In the future, Finnish players would not be able to access or transfer money to foreign online casinos and gambling sites.
In other words, Finland is now moving strongly towards IP-blocking. If the bill gets passed in the Finnish parliament, players residing in Finland will no longer be able to play at online casinos operated in Europe or other parts of the world. However, according to the Finnish news and media site, MTV3, the European Union might intervene.
An Outdated System
The Finnish government is trying to hold on to the monopoly of Veikkaus even more tighter than anyone could expect. However, the future plans seem very outdated, especially now when other Nordic countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, have deregulated their gambling markets. A licence-based system would be in many ways beneficial for Finland. Payment and IP-blocks on the other hand are most likely making things worse in more ways than just one.