Finnish Gambling Monopoly Showing Signs of Breaking
More and more political figures are calling for the Finnish monopoly to be demolished. This is historic news for a country that currently has the only gambling monopoly in the EU.
”A Finn always wins.”
For years, this has been known to be one of the main slogans of the Finnish state-run monopoly Veikkaus. Ironically, though, this might not be all that truthful, given that an estimated 1.4% of the Finnish population is suffering from the most severe form of a gambling problem. That, of course, is called gambling addiction.
In the European Union, the only acceptable reason for a country to have a monopoly on gambling is for it to fight off gambling problems. In other words, Finland has been given the right to keep competitors away if this means keeping problems at bay. Clearly, the statistics show that people in charge of decision-making have failed at this job.
The Finnish gambling monopoly has been a hot topic in Finland for a long time. Many critics have voiced their concerns over the years about local supermarket lobbies being filled with slot machines. Gambling has always been pretty much inescapable with slots littered everywhere—and most of all in the poorest areas of Finnish cities.
Politicians finally giving in
Despite growing opposition, the Finnish monopoly has stood tall. This is mainly because the system has always been a huge cash cow for the government. Some critics have even coined the term ”Veikkaus Mafia,” which is a reference to how so many Finnish institutions have their funds tied to the profits that come from gambling. For instance, money from gambling has been used to support arts, sports, mental health work, and even education. Because of this, there has always also been strong and vocal support for keeping the system intact.
Even just around a year ago, the government announced its plans to strengthen the monopoly even further by trying to block international casino companies from offering their services to Finns online.
Now, though, just before the end of the year, minister Tytti Tuppurainen told that the government (including the opposition) has reached a mutual agreement that it is time to do away with the monopoly. She also noted that the situation with digital casino gaming has been changing rapidly and that a new licensing system would put all casino providers on a level playing field.
— International gaming companies are currently operating wildly in a grey area. They are not beholden to the same responsibility standards as Veikkaus. This situation is naturally a cause for gambling problems and, at the same time, they are not paying taxes here, which means that Finland is losing out.
So far, the idea is to keep lottery games and physical slot machines exclusive to the state. Other than that, according to politicians, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is currently investigating ways to move forward.
It is about time the Finnish government decided to get with the times.
You can only fight progress for so long before you finally have to accept it. Sweden also made the leap 4 years ago, and since then, it was obvious that Finland would have to soon follow suit. Unfortunately, it took a long time before Sweden’s so-called little brother would finally catch up.
It will be interesting to see how the Finnish government will go about these things. It is probably going to take a couple of years before things really start changing… Such is the slow pace of bureaucracy!