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A new Finnish gambling licence

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Finland is one of the few countries in the world that has persistently maintained a state-owned monopoly in the field of gambling.

This means that gambling has not been prohibited in Finland, not at all; Finns are actually among the most active gamblers in the world. However, games have only been offered by the state-owned company Veikkaus.

Despite the monopoly system, Finns have also been allowed to play on other online casinos. As a result, there have been many Finnish-language online casinos operating with licences such as the MGA licence. This is why Finns prefer online gaming.

This has created a problem in Finland, as an increasing portion of Finnish players’ euros have been going elsewhere rather than into the state treasury. Estimates suggest that up to half of the euros spent by Finns on gambling have ended up outside of Veikkaus’s control.

Now, this issue has been recognized to the extent that the Veikkaus monopoly system will be dismantled, and a new open licensing system will be introduced, maybe already in 2026.

What does the new Finnish licensing system mean?

Until now, gambling in Finland has been allowed only through the state-owned company Veikkaus. This company has regulated all gambling in Finland: traditional casinos, online casinos, sports betting, horse racing, scratch cards, lotteries, and more.

Other operators have not been able to apply for a Finnish gambling licence, meaning the Finnish market has been closed. However, online casino games have been offered from other countries under licences from places like Malta or Estonia.

The new Finnish licensing system means that the old monopoly system will be dismantled and replaced with an open licensing system. This will allow other operators to apply for a licence to operate in the Finnish market and offer services such as online casino games and sports betting under the supervision of the Finnish gambling authority.

The idea behind the open licensing system is that the Finnish state will be able to better oversee the gambling market and keep more of the economic benefits within the country’s borders. In addition to high taxes, revenues will be collected through licensing fees directly from casino operators.

Furthermore, the new licensing system means that the Finnish state can better regulate what casino operators can and cannot do. This includes regulation of responsible gambling, advertising, and promotions.

Features of the new licensing system

There is no precise information yet about Finland’s new licensing system, and the topic has been a subject of intense discussion in the Finnish media. Leaders of well-known European gambling companies have expressed their hope that the new licensing system will not be marred by unjustifiably harsh regulations.

Although there is no definitive information available, several aspects of the new licensing system are fairly predictable. One of these is advertising and bonuses, which will be very tightly regulated in Finland.

Regarding bonuses, casino operators will likely have their hands tied. Bonuses may either not be offered at all, or their offering will be strictly limited, for example, to a welcome offer and one bonus per player.

Advertising in the Finnish licensing system will also be strictly monitored. It is very likely that gambling companies will not be able to freely market their services. Discussions have even included whether gambling company advertisements can be visible at all during events that include minors.

Responsible gambling will be at the centre of the new Finnish licensing system. Mandatory identification, already implemented in Veikkaus services, will undoubtedly be carried over to the new system. We can also expect strictly set deposit and loss limits over specified time periods.

Impact on MGA-licensed online casinos

Naturally, the transition to a new licensing system will have significant effects on currently operating casinos, especially those licenced by the MGA. A large portion of the online casinos currently favoured by Finnish players operate under a licence granted by the Maltese Gaming Authority.

MGA-licenced casinos that operate with bank identification (Pay N Play casinos) enjoy particular popularity and for example Pikakasinoja.com lists hundreds of them. It is still uncertain how the Finnish licensing reform will impact these casinos’ operations in all respects.  

One possible scenario is that Finland will strive more actively to block deposits to online casinos that do not hold a Finnish licence.

Blocking deposits is not a new practice, as this model is already in use in Finland. Efforts have been made to curb Finns’ gambling on foreign casinos by blocking deposits to those casinos. So far, however, only a few of the largest operators in the industry have ended up on the blacklist.

It is likely that even after the licensing reform, many casino companies will try to offer their services to Finnish players without a Finnish licence. The Finnish authority will, however, likely strive to prevent the development of a so-called grey market alongside the official market.

Opportunities and challenges of the Finnish licence

The news about the Finnish licence has been received with mixed feelings. Generally, the industry believes that regulation is a good thing, as the Finnish gambling market currently exists in a grey area.

However, there is also a widespread fear that regulation in Finland will become overly strict in many different aspects, making it unprofitable for companies to obtain an official licence.

The most significant opportunity for casino operators with a Finnish licence is the ability to legally market their operations. This could attract a broader player base and allow for more diversified advertising of their services.

Additionally, casino operators could more comprehensively implement new innovations and better localize their services specifically for Finnish players. Currently, casinos follow a fairly similar pattern within certain restrictions.

However, the challenges are also significant. One of the most notable challenges is the cost of the new Finnish licence for gambling companies. It is likely that the requirements and the cost of the licence will be so high that smaller operators may not have the opportunity to apply for an official Finnish operating permit.

Furthermore, a challenge with the new Finnish licensing system is that it will bring significantly more competition. The major players in the industry are likely to succeed, while the new licensing system may pose difficulties for smaller operators.

Summary

So far, Finland’s new licensing system has offered more questions than answers. There is no definite information on the timeline for the transition to the new system; generally, the year 2026 has been mentioned, but many professionals consider this schedule too rapid.

So far, very little information about the content of Finland’s new licensing system has been made public. Presumably, some aspects will be modelled after Sweden, which transitioned from a monopoly system to an open licensing system a few years ago.

For MGA-licenced casinos, Finland’s new licensing system presents a mixed bag. Many Finnish players will likely switch from MGA-licenced casinos and any other licenced casinos to sites with a Finnish licence. On the other hand, better bonuses, for example, might still be a reason for many players to choose MGA casinos in the future.

Currently, the biggest question for casinos with a Maltese licence is what measures Finland will take to steer players towards casinos with a Finnish licence. If more stringent measures, like blocking deposits are implemented, the situation could become difficult for MGA casinos.

Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk/

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