FINLAND GAMBLING REFORMS SET TO COME INTO FORCE ON 1 JANUARY
The Finnish Government has approved amendments to the country’s Lotteries Act to reduce the negative effects of gambling and strengthen the state monopoly more effectively, including the possibility to block payment transactions.
The stated aim of the reform is to prevent harm caused by gambling and to combat marketing by unlicensed operators, and to drive demand for gambling towards licensed activities under the Lotteries Act.
The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2022 after the President of the Republic approved the bill Wednesday (Dec. 22).
This will see the player identification requirement extended from gaming machines to cover all forms of gambling, a strengthening of the National Police Board’s approach to unlawful marketing, and efforts to prevent harm through more considered placement of slot machines.
State monopoly operator Veikkaus introduced compulsory identification at decentralised slot machines in January 2021 and in its own game rooms in July, with the requirement to identify players now set to be extended to all Veikkaus games in future.
Compulsory identification will be introduced in stages, with all gambling requiring identification by 2024 at the latest.
The Act also lays down provisions on the use of game and player data collected as a result of the identification requirement. Veikkaus is obliged to process data to identify harmful gambling, with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare granted the rights to obtain data from Veikkaus for the purpose of assessing and monitoring the negative impacts of gambling.
The reformed Lotteries Act also further specifies the marketing content allowed for Veikkaus, which must be considered to be “moderate”. The marketing of particularly harmful games of chance, such as slot games, will be prohibited.
According to the Act, all advertising by Veikkaus must include information on the age limit for gambling and information on tools available to control gambling, as well as support services for problem gamblers.
The marketing of sports betting, which is currently prohibited, will be allowed to direct gambling towards the monopoly operator. The amendment also applies to totalisator betting games, for which marketing is also currently prohibited.
As a new tool, the National Police Board can propose to the Market Court that an administrative penalty payment be imposed for marketing that violates the Lotteries Act.
Another new instrument included in the Act is payment blocking, which will be targeted at gambling companies that direct their marketing to mainland Finland in violation of the Lotteries Act, and whose marketing has been prohibited by the National Police Board.
The regulation on the blocking of payment transactions will enter into force at the beginning of 2023.
Finally, the legislative reform will allow Veikkaus to establish a subsidiary for activities other than gambling, including B2B activities.
The subsidiary will focus on providing gambling products and services to other companies, but will not be allowed to provide gambling services to consumers.
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