Finland Throws in the Towel on its Veikkaus Gaming Monopoly

Posted on: June 20, 2023, 07:02h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2023, 10:33h.

One of the last examples of how ineffective gambling monopolies can be coming to an end. Finland has a new government in place that will loosen the vice grips Veikkaus has on the country’s gaming operations in less than three years.

The flag of Finland against a blue sky
The flag of Finland against a blue sky. The country has definitively decided that a gaming monopoly isn’t viable. (Image: Blogspot)

The government has announced it will reform Finland’s gambling system, opening it up to competition with a license model no later than Jan. 1, 2026. The decision isn’t a huge shock to industry insiders, as even those within Veikkaus have acknowledged that the monopoly wasn’t working.

The scope of the new license system would basically include online casino games and online betting. Veikkaus’ exclusive operations and operations in competitive markets will be separated into different companies within the same group, similar to how the country’s gaming industry was divided until 2017.

Experiment Comes to an End

The current gambling policy hasn’t been successful, according to the new government, as more consumers have switched to unlicensed gaming options. Veikkaus currently holds a market share of about 50% and continues to lose ground.

Gaming operators are able to attract Finnish users without paying license fees or taxes and aren’t required to adhere to responsible gambling initiatives. As a result, as repeat analysis has shown, the country is potentially losing tens of millions of dollars a year and consumers have less gaming protection.

Veikkaus hasn’t hidden the fact that it’s happy with the reforms, as well. Because it has lost its position in online gaming, a competitive market could help it regain ground.

The government still needs to work on the fine details of the overhaul, but has already laid out an overview. There will be licenses available for online casinos and sports betting, with a mandatory and singular self-exclusion option as part of the licensing requirements. This is similar to how other gaming markets operate.

What isn’t clear yet is how many licenses may be available and what their associated fees might be. Finnish lawmakers will now begin laying out the framework in hopes of keeping to the government’s time line to complete the transition.

Overcoming the Opposition

The new gambling regime will increase supervision of the market and provide greater support to gamblers. While most support the initiative, there are at least a few who still believe it’s a bad idea.

This past February, Jani Selini, and Tomi Roukan of the Finnish Institute of Health authored a blog post on the subject of opening the country’s gambling market. They asserted that the results would be the opposite of conventional wisdom.

As the number of operators offering gambling increases, so does the amount of advertising and the number of available gaming products. Therefore, the researchers concluded that gambling by Finns would very likely increase, which means that gambling harm levels would have to increase as well.

The blog post hints at the reforms being “politically motivated,” which is a possible sign that the conclusions of the research could center on a particular agenda. The UK’s gaming industry has grown significantly over the years, yet the “problem gambling” rate has dropped from 0.4% to 0.2% in the same period.

At the same time, Sweden, which the researchers used as a comparison for the blog, has seen similar results. Finland’s neighbor has seen a significant boost in online gambling, with the last quarter of 2022 witnessing a 10.5% boost.

At the same time, according to a study on gambling disorders in the country, there has been no significant increase in the rate of problem gambling harm. Therefore, reform supporters say, if the UK and Sweden can control gambling harm, so can Finland.