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How the new Finnish Act reflects on online casinos and players

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Finnish parliament has passed a new gambling Act that places tighter controls on where online gambling can be enjoyed.

New laws have come into play for Finnish players at online casinos as the parliament has passed blocking measures for payment service providers.

After only a single reading, parliament has approved the proposed changes to the Lottery Act which will restrict players from being able to play at casinos outside of Finland.

Going forward, all customers hoping to experience the fun of playing online casino games will need to find a casino that is operated by Veikkaus Oy, the state-owned company that provides gambling services.

Customer safety or missed opportunity?

When approving the new laws that introduce payment blocking measures, the Finnish government stated that they feel it will further protect players from online gambling harm. However, many industry experts feel that it will only restrict the choices of customers, pushing them to different ways of gambling instead.

“The introduction of PSP blockings is an implicit admission that many of Finland’s gamblers prefer to bet on other websites rather than that of the state-run monopoly. There are many reasons why they do so: the availability of better betting odds, and better diversity and expertise in the products offered, are to name a few," said Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

Currently, all gambling services in Finland are controlled by a state-owned company - Veikkaus Oy. This makes Finland the only country in the EU that still uses a monopoly for gambling services, a fact that has been questioned in recent years.

The choice to block PSPs within Finland in order to keep players from choosing offshore casinos may have been a critical mistake. After officials in parliament raised concerns that blocking winnings would be unconstitutional, it was decided that payments would only be blocked to offshore sites and not vice versa.

Lottery Act restrictions

Regulations in Finland are fairly tight as is but other restrictions that appear within the Lottery Act include important changes such as:

  • All Finnish players must be at least 18 years old.
  • Verification of age and place of residence is required before playing.
  • Age verification is also required when playing public spaces.
  • Not verifying the age of customers may lead to criminal liability.
  • Gambling may not be marketed to minors or use positive messages to encourage gambling.
  • Veikkaus Oy may promote casinos and gambling when done responsibly and with the right message.
  • All marketing of gambling operators other than those provided by Veikkaus Oy is prohibited.

The amended Lottery Act is now in effect as of the 1st of January 2022 with the new payment blocking addition to begin in 2023.

Upcoming changes

Earlier in 2021, Veikkaus announced that playing at slot machines in a land-based casino would require age verification. This law is set to be rolled out to all forms of gambling by no later than 2024.

This law will mean that identification will be mandatory for every form of gambling with real money in a land-based or online casino.

It remains to be seen what other changes Finland will make to their gambling laws and whether or not the current changes will make as big of an impact as they hope.

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