Finland’s government has introduced a bill aiming to establish an open gambling licensing system, with a target implementation date of 1 January 2027.

The proposed system would see state-owned operator Veikkaus continue to hold a monopoly over lotteries, land-based casino games, physical slot machines, totalisator, and pool betting. However, private licensed operators will be allowed to offer sports betting and iGaming activities, subject to a 22% GGR tax rate. Additionally, B2B licences will be available for software suppliers.

This proposal is in line with the Finnish government’s June 2023 commitment to diversify its monopoly-based gaming market. The decision was driven by consistently low channelisation rates and ongoing concerns about problem gambling.

The legislation was drafted by a working group led by the Ministry of Interior and guided by a political steering group comprising several state secretaries.

Veikkaus’ operations will be divided between two distinct companies within the group, allowing for greater flexibility if the state decides to sell part of its stake in the future.

Marketing, sponsorship and KYC provisions

The comprehensive 417-page draft law includes provisions for Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, detailing player registration, identity verification, and residence checks. It stipulates a minimum gambling age of 18 and proposes a centralized self-exclusion system.

Marketing and sponsorship activities are also addressed, with licensed operators allowed to advertise through various channels under certain restrictions. Koivula added: “The approach to marketing in mass media and sponsorship is relatively liberal; however, bonuses, affiliates, and influencers will be prohibited.”

The Ministry emphasized that marketing should be “moderate” in volume, scope, visibility, and frequency. High-risk games and those remaining under Veikkaus’ monopoly will be banned from outdoor advertising. As in other countries, marketing cannot target minors or vulnerable groups.

Regulatory and enforcement framework

The proposed regulatory oversight will be managed by a new Finnish Supervisory Agency within the Ministry of Finance’s administrative branch, transferring authority from the National Police Board. This agency will be granted extensive powers to regulate the market, including the ability to reject licence applications based on past infringements, impose administrative sanctions, and make test purchases.

The new agency will also ensure compliance with legislation related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures. The draft law permits the use of ISP and payment blocking to prevent unauthorized gambling operations and marketing.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will continue to oversee the monitoring, research, and assessment of gambling activities and associated harms, with these responsibilities delegated to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. Government grants will be available to support the prevention and reduction of gambling-related harms.

Road ahead

The ministry aims to present the proposal to parliament during the spring session of 2025. If approved, the new system will roll out in stages, with licence applications opening by early 2026. Veikkaus will maintain its monopoly until the end of 2026, with licensed operators launching services by 1st January 2027. B2B licence applications will start in early 2027, with the supplier licensing framework effective from early 2028.

The Ministry of Interior is seeking comments on the draft law from stakeholders and interested parties, with the consultation period closing on 18th August.

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