Finland is one of the rare European countries that operates a gambling monopoly. In 2017, the casino and fruit-machine firm RAY and horse betting outfit Fintoto joined Veikkaus, which used to handle only the national lottery. Now, Veikkaus is the gambling monopoly in the state, not allowing any other agency or firm to offer gambling services in Finland.
Of course, Finland allows people to play foreign online casinos, but it doesn’t allow them to market. The Finnish site Kaikki Minimitalletus Nettikasinot NettiCasinoHEX.comilla gives a detailed overview on the current situation, so let’s take a closer look and highlight key points.
What are the pros and cons of the Finnish state-owned gambling company?
First, its state directed gambling sector is very successful. Veikkaus has managed to form a popular, efficient, and socially responsible role in an age when economists try to belittle the role of nationalized industries. The fact that Finns love to gamble helps too. The total revenue of Veikkaus is incredible 3,2 billion Euro annually, 340 million coming from the national lottery.
The state-run gambling monopoly has a much more constructive influence than in other EU countries thanks to the limited stakes involved and the fact that revenues are funneled to charity and good causes. The biggest land-based casino located in the capital of Finland, the Helsinki Casino, states that it’s the only casino in the world whose total revenues are funneled to charity.
In fact, the Finnish gambling marketing slogan says that losing a bet means another Finn winning. Or, one person’s gambling loss is another one’s win. Their national lottery’s revenues are designated for the benefit of people in the fields of science, culture, social welfare, sports, youth work, and health.
The profits of Veikkaus are distributed via many government ministries and channeled to different charities and public organizations, many of which rely on the funding.
Just to compare, the mounting loses of players in the UK on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals at high street betting shops led to an unexpected conflict and legislation.
According to the state-run gambling monopoly, the goal of Veikkaus is to reduce the damaging effects of gambling. In fact, that’s how they got the EU’s approval.
Even though the number of male problem gamblers has slightly reduced since the formation of the monopoly, the situation for people with serious gambling addiction has worsened, says Matilda Hellman, a social scientist.
The merge of Veikkaus, Fintoto, and Ray hasn’t really helped to control the sector. There are slot machines everywhere, from the local supermarkets and grocery stores, to kiosks and petrol stations, so 30% of people in the state gamble at least once a week.
What’s more, due to the rise of online gambling, Finns started to gamble even more at home. All they need to gamble is their phone, tablet, or laptop. As a result, more problem gamblers started to appear and the situation of existing ones is worsened.
The Finnish online gambling is still a monopoly, although Finns are allowed to play on hundreds, if not even thousands of foreign online casinos that are operated via European competition laws. However, these foreign casino sites aren’t allowed to market on Finland’s television or radio.
The Ministry of the Interior is conducting a study on possible technical restrictions on access and transfer of funds so that players from Finland could not access or transfer money to foreign online casinos in the future. Veikkaus is supporting this blocking of foreign online gambling sites and money transactions to some gambling accounts. So, the state might proceed to IP-blocking which means the Finns won’t be able to access foreign online gambling casinos. This has been questioned by parties active within the gambling sector, such as the Sports Bettors Association in Finland. According to one of the founders of the association, the professional poker player Aki Pyysing, professional betters in Finland can’t rely only on the profit margins of Veikkaus games to make a living.
Although the Finn’s faith in the state-run gambling monopoly is generally strong, it’s still criticized by someone for making it too easy to gamble.
It’s still unclear how the gambling monopoly in Finland will evolve in the future. We’ll just have to wait to see.