Gambling Law in Finland
Finland has a state-controlled monopoly on all forms of gambling: both offline and online. Three different entities are each responsible for a specific form of gaming in the country. These entities also operate the only officially sanctioned gambling sites in Finland.
- RAY is the provider for brick-and-mortar gambling across the nation. It has the monopoly for land-based casinos, table games, slot machines, and traditional casino games such as roulette.
- Veikkaus Oy is responsible for the national lottery, sports betting, and instant win games.
- Fintoto Oy is responsible for parimutuel horse racing.
There's a fourth organization that oversees all gambling in the Aland Province, which is an autonomous region that consists of 6700 islands extending into the Black Sea. This one is called PAF.
All four of these organizations effectively carve up gambling amongst themselves under the direction of the Finnish government. All profits taken in from gambling activities are earmarked for social projects such as sporting events, arts, science, and education.
Officially Licensed Sites
PAF and RAY run the only legal gambling sites recognized by the Finnish government. PAF owns the monopoly on online gaming in the Aland Province while RAY holds control over the Finnish mainland.
Finland and the European Union regularly butt heads over the state monopoly on gambling. The EU requires free trade between member nations and sees the government monopoly as too restrictive to foreign operators.
The European Commission has issued letters of disapproval over the state monopoly while Finland has responded with letters of its own. That's about the extent of the disagreement. It's anybody's guess as to whether the EU will ever take stronger actions against Finland.
Unlicensed Gaming Sites in Finland
Foreign gambling sites are forbidden from offering their services in Finland, but many sites do indeed accept real money players from Finland. There are no legal mechanisms in place to censor foreign websites or block financial transactions to and from those sites.
Additionally, there are no criminal codes that outlaw the act of placing a bet with an unlicensed operator. Therefore, Finns are free to play at any of the many gambling sites based out of other nations. Some of the biggest gaming companies in the world accept Finns and even have Swedish and Finnish language websites.
Even some of the most legally conservative gaming companies such as Bet365 and 888 happily accept customers from Finland. These sites block customers from the United States for legal reasons, but they have no problem serving the Finnish market.
Finland has expressed an urge to crack down on what it calls "illegal gambling" by passing legislation to prevent unlicensed sites from advertising in Finnish media. While this development is worth watching, it appears to have no major impact on the ability of Finns to visit and play at unlicensed gaming sites.
We believe the risk of Finland further cracking down on "illegal" gambling via web censorship or new banking laws is minimal. The EU is already warning Finland to lighten up, and it's hard to imagine the Finnish government finding it worthwhile to pick a new fight with the EU over a relatively minor issue.
Author: Wesley Burns
Updated: March 2015
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