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Finland - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | February 10, 2019

Country Specifics

The Finnish are one of the most avid gambling nations in the world. In fact, Finland has been rated the fifth largest gambling nation. The Finnish have a deep love for this form of entertainment, and figures have shown that these people spend about €10 billion on all forms of betting throughout the year.

Finland, formerly seen as part of the kingdom of Sweden as well as the Russian Empire, has always managed to control gambling with an iron hand. This nation had a government-controlled gambling monopoly even before the Second World War.

Online Gambling Regulations in Finland

While there have been many attempts from the European Union to bring change to their laws and regulations, the Finnish government has remained unmoved. In short, all forms of gambling, including online gambling, have been legalized within Finland. But there are still some uncertainties over the legalities around some online casinos.

In this guide we break down the laws, take a look at those in control, and how the current regulations affect you as a player looking to take part in online gambling.

The 3+1 ruling system

The overall structure of the state-controlled monopoly on all types of gambling is set up and run by three publically owned organisations. Each of these organisations is in charge of one or more gambling sectors. The interesting thing is that two-thirds of the adult population in Finland have said that they prefer the monopolised gambling system because it seems to be for a good cause. Around 20% of all profits go for good causes such as charities, sporting events, the arts, science, and educational projects.

The three entities in control of gambling in Finland are RAY, Veikkaus Oy and Fintoto Oy. Each has its own responsibilities. RAY is responsible for providing land-based gambling across Finland. In other words, RAY is the only provider of brick-and-mortar gambling across the nation which includes all types of table games, slot machines, and traditional casino games.

Veikkaus Oy is the sole provider of the national lottery, sports betting and instant win games such as scratch cards. Then Fintoto Oy has full control over pari-mutuel horse racing. These three entities merged back in 2016, and are now considered to be one firm, while they still maintain their monopoly on legal gambling throughout Finland. Aland Province is the only province they don’t have control over, as this part of Finland is controlled by a fourth organization known as PAF.

When it comes to online gambling, PAF and RAY are the sole runners of all online gambling sites considered to be legal by the Finnish government. PAF has control of online gambling in Aland Province while RAY controls the rest of the Finnish mainland’s online gambling activities.

Unfortunately, this is not favoured by the EU which has made a point over the years to step in when member nations don’t abide by the free trade rule between member nations. It seems that Finland isn’t going to back down regarding their regulations, as they’ve only responded to disapproval letters from the EU with letters of their own.

Are online gambling winnings taxable in Finland?

The good news is that any and all winnings made from gambling activities online or at land-based establishments won’t be taxed. You as a player get to keep your entire winnings for yourself. It might be good to declare your winnings just to remain on the right side of the law.

Operators, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky. They are expected to declare all profits as well as pay 8.5% tax on all profit made throughout the year.

What’s the deal with online gambling in Finland?

To put it simply, the Finnish are allowed to participate in online gambling as long as they do it on legal and state-approved sites. This implies they are allowed to participate in any gambling activities as long as they are done on a site provided by the RAY or PAF.

Foreign operators are not allowed to offer their services to the Finnish, but as always there are some brave operators who still allow the Finnish to play for real money on their sites. In essence, there is no legal follow-up for those who are in transgression of the laws.

While the state-run monopoly has sole control, it has not done anything to take action against the rule-breakers. Thus, foreign operators have free access to Finnish players as there is no censor blocking their sites or any financial transactions made to or from them.  When it comes to legality there is no criminal code rendering it illegal to place a bet with an unlicensed operator.

However, this might change in the near future, as the ruling parties have already started talking about implementing legislation that will prevent unlicensed sites from advertising in Finnish media. This might slow foreign operators down a bit, but it still won’t make any impact on the Finns’ ability to play at unlicensed casino sites.

It’s clear that while the Finnish are determined to keep firm control over gambling activities in the nation, the EU is not happy. Any further laws implemented to keep foreign operators out of Finland might just push the European Union to a point where it will step in more vigorously. While no government can be forced to comply with EU rulings, additional measures can be taken which could cause trouble for the nation as a whole in the long run.

The online gambling market is an incredibly lucrative one at the moment, and many argue that if Finland allows foreign operators to operate legally within its borders, the country can secure an even bigger revenue percentage solely from online gambling each year. They will also maintain control over these operators and can then push them to abide by their laws and regulations regarding online responsible gambling.

For you, as a player, there is no law stating it is illegal to place bets at any foreign online casino. You can start your online casino journey at ease, knowing that it is safe and you won’t be prosecuted. Don’t forget to take a look at the top-rated online casinos offering their services to the Finnish. These online casinos have been vetted and reviewed to ensure their legitimacy and fairness. It can’t do harm to try and remain safe while playing at foreign sites.

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