Finnish casino scene in flux – State-run monopoly reducing slot machines in stores
Things are a-changin’ in one of the most active gambling countries in the world.
Finland has for long been one of the most gambling-friendly places on Earth. Ranking only behind Australia, Singapore and Ireland in terms of the biggest gambling losses per resident, Finland is quite a unique little country with under 6 million people.
The reason why Finns are such active gamblers lies in the fact that our state-run monopoly Veikkaus has a huge presence everywhere you look—both online and offline. Physical slot machines populate just about every grocery store, bar, and restaurant.
Recently, however, the current government has been tidying up the gambling space. This has come after Veikkaus has often been reprimanded for its questionable marketing. For instance, back in 2019, the state-run company aired a radio ad where a person calls a psychologist to ask whether it is okay for him to gamble. The psychologist would, of course, respond that it is perfectly fine to look for some excitement from gambling.
Such aggressive marketing in a country where studies show that 3% of the population are dealing with gambling problems raised the ire of both politicians and the public at large. As a result, the new Finnish lottery act underwent some major changes and Veikkaus had to eventually get rid of some of its physical slot machines.
On the 18th of August 2022, according to Finnish Kauppalehti, Veikkaus stated that it would once again reduce the number of its slot machine while also switching off its gambling terminals outside of a 9 am to 9 pm period. What is more, slot machines are to become less visually appealing to customers until they have completed their nowadays-mandatory authentication process.
The legality of online casino gambling also changing
On top of changes being made to physical slot machines, the whole online casino scene has also recently come under fire. While some Veikkaus critics hoped that the company’s questionable marketing tactics would cause the monopoly to be banished, quite the opposite is what happened. The leading Finnish politicians instead opted to solidify the status of Veikkaus in order to channel more people to play state-owned games even without the need of such aggressive marketing. Under EU laws, it is impossible for the government to ban all online casino gambling, yet there are still ways to prevent gamblers from looking elsewhere for their entertainment.
In 2022, the National Police Board of Finland began collecting a list of online casino operators who are breaching the Finnish national laws by advertising their services to the Finnish people. The so-called black list is to be revealed at the start of 2023, after which operators that have been deemed unlawful in their practices will face severe repercussions. Mainly, the idea is to prevent online banking establishments from allowing money transactions to said operators. This would mean that gamblers would need to look for alternate ways to deposit if they were to indeed continue playing with these blacklisted operators.
The next few months will undoubtedly be most interesting in the Finnish online casino scene.