Finland to safeguard gambling monopoly & block unlicensed operators

27th February 2014 9:32 am GMT

The Finnish government’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy has begun to explore a series of measures designed to help strengthen the country’s gambling monopoly and combat unlicensed operators.

The Cabinet Committee supported a proposal submitted by the country’s three licensed operators Fintoto Oy, Rahaautomaattiyhdistys (RAY) and Veikkaus Oy to set up a digital monitoring group for the market. The new entity will see the government and operators collaborate on and discuss methods of blocking unlicensed operators from the market.

To support these efforts the committee is examining whether it will be able to use existing legislation for marketing via television and radio to block illegal gambling advertising.

The Committee said however that at this stage, stricter measures such as blocking financial transfers, are not being considered as a primary measure, with alternative options to be discussed. There will also be a push to make Finnish citizens aware of safe and legal gambling products as preferable alternatives to unlicensed sites.

A full set of proposals for the prevention of unlicensed gambling activities will be prepared by the end of the year.

The move to strengthen the Finnish Lotteries Act comes after the European Commission (EC) concluded long-running infringement proceedings against the legislation in November last year after two amendments were made to regulations.

The EC ruled that Finland’s revised gambling law constituted “a consistent and systematic pursuit of the objective sought by the establishment of a gambling monopoly in a Member State.”

Infringement proceedings were first launched in 2006, with the EC ruling at the time that Finland’s legislation was not compliant with European Union law. The process ultimately saw the country adopt the new Lotteries Act, which came into force in January 2012.

The EC has since described Finland as “a prime example” of a country with a gambling monopoly.

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