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Finland making plans to stop Veikkaus’ gambling monopoly

Finland will investigate ending the state’s gaming monopoly, according to the minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Tytti Tuppurainen.

Finland currently operates under the monopoly of the government-owned Veikkaus, which now holds the exclusive right to run all forms of gambling in Finland, including lotteries and slot machines. Veikkaus was established in 2017 after the consolidation of the three previous monopoly operators into a single, state-controlled business.

Advocates for a licensing model have stated that a monopoly system is not in Finland’s best interests. Even a significant political party, the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP), which has been a steadfast backer of the monopoly, sees advantages in switching to a licensing model, which includes fostering competition.

In a recent interview, Tuppurainen expressed her desire for the investigation to start at the beginning of 2023. She explained how she had rushed to send in a report on a potential switch to a multi-permit system as the Minister of Ownership. She continued by saying that the opposition and the government share the same view on the need to break the monopoly.

“As the Minister of Ownership, I myself hastened to make a report on a possible transition to a multi-permit system. It is only a good thing that the opposition also shares this perception,” she said.

Tuppurainen is very keen on getting the process underway before the next parliamentary elections on April 3, 2023. It is likely that this urgency is because the current administration is in agreement with the change; however, it is uncertain what a change of government could do to the plight of changing the monopoly system.

“There are parliamentary elections next spring, and it would be ideal that by the time of the government negotiations, we would have enough information to be able to make policies in the government negotiations,” Tuppurainen said.

Tuppurainen added that the move toward licensing would harmonize the policies of all gambling firms. She claimed that as non-Veikkaus businesses are not governed, many of them provide little player protection, while Veikkaus has a lot of stringent deposit cap restrictions. The minister also mentioned that unlicensed gambling generates no revenue for the Finnish government.

“Right now the game companies from abroad operate as if in a wild grey zone. They are not subject to the same liability regulations that apply to Veikkaus,” she said.

“The situation naturally causes gambling disadvantages and at the same time the taxman’s hand is twisted, which means that the profits from gambling also go past Finland to foreign countries.”

According to National Coalition Party MP Sari Multala, the envisaged shift would not affect Veikkaus’ monopoly over land-based gaming, lotteries, and casinos. She said that by maintaining only one operator, these sectors are simpler to regulate.

“The lottery and gambling machines would remain within Veikkaus’ monopoly. It is easier to regulate when there is only one actor. On the online side, the regulation cannot achieve the goal of not playing out. Monitoring is easier in the physical world than online,” stated Multala.

Multala added that the dissolution of the monopoly structure is likely to make headway as a result of Tuppurainen being a party to the movement.

“It is really important that such a speech is also heard from the prime minister’s party, it means that an investigation on the transition to the license system could be started as soon as possible,” said Multala in an interview.

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