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Gambling is one of the activities that get people excited. This fact applies to many people across the globe which the Finns are not exempted. An average Finn is a lover of gambling activities and their keen interest is obvious as they spend almost €10 billion per year on slot machines, lottery tickets, virtual casino gaming and sport betting.
Gambling activities in Finland have in existence for long and widely accepted among the population. In particular, the state-owned monopoly got into the Finland betting market during World War II.
And the country has the fifth largest gambling population across the globe. The gambling rules in Finland have been rigid and unchanged over the years.
For the past few years, many foreign online gambling operators made effort to enter the blossoming Finnish gambling market but couldn’t. This is because the country jealously guards its monopolistic gambling market from intrusion foreign operators.
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Finland’s Gambling Regulatory Bodies
Raha-automaattiyhdistys, also known as RAY or Finish Slot Machine Association is the body in control of all land-based gambling in Finland. In 1938, this gambling regulatory body was founded, and since then has been in charge of various brick-and-mortal gambling, authorizing slot machines, with poker, blackjack and other card games, traditional table games like roulette are closely monitored.
RAY got a powerful license from Finnish Government, not only to manage gambling activities but also empowered to produce land-based slot machines for the Finnish gambling market. RAY made name from its slot markets.
In addition, this body presides over all interactive gambling activities and marshal the gambling market with the largest official casino in its possession, namely the Grand Casino Helsinki.
Excitingly, being the home of popular activities such as the Finnish Championship Tournament and varieties of poker tournaments that span the 12-month cycle. Casino Helsinki products draw majority of poker players in Finland. Additionally,
RAY takes the responsibility security and funding of all addiction and health issues that result from uncontrolled and unreasonable gambling.
Veikkaus Oy is another gambling regulatory body in Finland, also known as Finnish National Lottery. This body presides over the production of the National lottery tickets, regulates instant win games and as well take charge of sport betting activities in the nooks and crannies of Finland.
Veikkaus is a government-owned gambling controlling body in Finland in the same manner as RAY. Surprisingly, this body is managed by the country’s Ministry of Education. Veikkaus’ revenue is distributed between the education sector and other organisation to finance several social and cultural projects like youth work, sport arts and sciences.
Fintoto Oy is a government-owned gambling monitoring organisation in Finland. Being the third among the gambling management bodies, Fintoto Oy presides over horse racing with parimutuel betting inclusive.
Almost the same way with Veikkaus Oy, this body finances Finnish organisations like Suomen Hippos- that control the registration and breeding of horse, with its own profit. In the early days of 2017, the Finnish betting market witnessed amalgamation of the three gambling controlling bodies- simply referred to as Veikkaus.
PAF- Play among Friends is the fourth gambling controlling body in Finland. This body takes charge of gambling activities within the Aland province. This province has more than 6,700 islands. These islands united and became independent in 2009.
PAF was founded in 1966 and remained firm in the Finnish betting market since then. The advent of internet provided a providential platform on which PAF and RAY soar to become the top competitors in the market, as online gambling became wide-reaching among bettors.
PAF began with online casino in 1999, only to record a set back as Ray overtook as the only official online gambling provider in Finnish mainland since empowered by the 2002 gambling act.
Nevertheless, PAF continued the good work by offering attractive bonuses and reasonable odds which lured majority of mainland Finnish bettors to prefer it to RAY. But RAY later took legal action that forced the Finnish government to intervene and installed simultaneous operation of both parties.
With the four government-owned gambling agencies in the Finnish betting market, government is still doing its best to monopolize the market.
Position of Finland in Online Gambling
As discussed earlier, betting activities especially online are legal in Finland. Only that the regulations are so strict that bettors are left with few selections for their bets.
The problem of Finland’s gambling market resulted from government decision to authorise only PAF and RAY to take control of interactive gambling websites. This monopoly has made the market very tight for gamblers because international gambling providers are not allowed to operate in the Finnish market.
Sadly, Finnish government remains undecided as to authorise international operators regardless of the effort of the European Commission.
A renowned gaming software developer, Playtech signed a contract with the Finnish government to help with sophisticated gambling software products and solution to online casinos.
This software which also featured poker room was controlled by RAY. Having done this, it appears that the government is not interested in the operation of any gambling provider outside the country.
In 2010, the Finnish government went further in its quest to get rid of international gambling operators by enacting new laws that completely banned these foreigners from showcasing the offers attached to their products to the Finland citizens.
The government did not only ban foreign ads but also forbid the use of domains with fi. extension. Any international gambling provider that trespass Finns’ law will face the music of prosecution, either sentence for two-year imprisonment or burden with weighty fine.
However, Finnish gamblers have never been prosecuted for gambling on websites that based outside the country. It seems the law only prevent external gambling providers from the Finnish betting market but players aren’t totally restricted from using any international betting site.
Interestingly, the foreign operators yearn to have the native Finns booking with them despite the government induced monopoly. Also, it is noteworthy that the Finns administration do not impose barriers on transactions on and from online casinos.
And these transactions are not monitored by the government, so Finnish players can initiate transactions at will. The same also applies to the foreign operators- as no transaction barrier is imposed on them, monitoring is zero; there is easy access for Finns.
In addition to freedom of transaction, the foreign gambling operators also provide Finns with another escape route which is varieties of currencies to choose from.
International gambling operators entertain the use of several currencies of which the common EUR is not an exception, so gamblers from Finland have no need for currency exchange. Moreover, these operators also grant the Finns collections of secure payment methods especially those that meet the need of the people from this region.
Taxes on Online Gambling in Finland
Fortunately, Finnish players have no tax imposed on them by the government as per their winnings, which implies that 100% of one’s winning is guaranteed.
In contrast, Finnish law necessitates payment of taxes for both the landbased and online gambling operators. Landbased operators pay 8.25% of their gross profit as taxes while the national lotteries remit 9.5% of their gross profit.
Research conducted on the Finns gambling rate reveals their keen interest in both the landbased and online gambling, so it would be promising if the government can throw the Finland gambling market open to the online foreign-based gambling operators. Sadly, only the aforementioned local gambling operators have access to operate in this bettor-congested gambling market.
The Time Ahead of Finland’s Online Gambling
One of the commonest activities in Finland is gambling. And it has been in vogue in this country since 17th century. Gambling in Finland experienced an official ban in 1899 but this ban lasted for a short period as it was lifted in1917, less than 20 years.
Even though the Finland gambling market has been in existence for long, the government is unwilling to authorise foreign gambling providers that have stocks of interactive casino games to offer.
Foreign gambling operators’ access to this market will benefit players as varieties of casino selections will be made available and protection against unreliable sites and potential scams will be guaranteed.
The European Commission had made several attempts to address the Finland’s strict gambling policies. The commission in 2010 mounted pressure on the Finland government to adjust the rigidity of their gambling regulations such that the country’s gambling market will be in compliance with the EU free trading policies.
The commission advised that the country should make few adjustments to its so-called “protectionist” gambling policy.
In preference to granting foreign operators access, Finland finds it easy to fine-tune its closed-door gambling regulations to suit the EU’s requirements.
This change in regulations featured a merger of the three state-owned gambling regulatory bodies (Veikkaus Oy, RAY and Fintoto Oy) into a unit called Veikkaus.
Although gambling is a common activity in Finland, majority of the Finns do not bother about the limited casino operators and the monopolistic nature of the gambling market.
The statistical output of one of the media outlets shockingly revealed that 66% of long-term bettors in the country support the government’s effort to reinforce monopoly in Finland’s online gambling market.
Probably the country might witness a change in its gambling market in the nearest future but regarding the current gambling rules, the chances of Finland’s gambling market expansion are slim.
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