Gambling is a favorite pastime for most of the Finns. This can be drawn from the recent gambling research which was conducted by H2 Gambling Capital. The statistics submitted by this agency showed that Finland citizens spend more than €10 billion on different gambling activities. This said, Finland has strict gambling regulations and gambling activities within the country are only run by state-regulated monopolies. Despite the pressure to open doors to the private sector to operate gambling businesses, Finland has remained strong on its stance to limit gambling businesses to the government-run monopolies.
Types of Legal and Illegal Gambling
Most of the games of chance in Finland are legal. The popular land-based games in Finland include the Pesapallo and ice hockey wagering games. The Pesapallo game has deep roots in the Finnish culture and has a closer similarity with baseball. The spectators have an option of placing stakes on this game.
Land-based and online casino games have also taken root in the lives of the Finns. These games are run by the Veikkaus and they draw a considerable player base. The law allows any resident who has attained the age of 18 years to freely engage in gambling activities. The profits amassed from these games are directed towards funding national projects such as sports, recreational amenities, and the development of health facilities.
Stance on Offline Gambling
Offline gambling in Finland is run and controlled by the government-owned monopolies. One of these is known as Ray. This body runs two casinos. One casino which can be regarded as a major one is the Helsinki-based grand Casino. This Casino offers games such as poker, slot games, and table games. This Helsinki Casino is also famed for hosting annual casino tournaments which generate much attention across the whole of Finland. The other Casino facility is the Paf Casino, located in the Mariehamn. Compared to the grand Helsinki Casino, this facility is significantly small and has less than 30 slot machines.
The Finland gambling laws provide other avenues where its citizens can conduct gambling activities. These include the gaming arcades where Finns gather to engage in different gambling activities and the slot machine facilities provided in hotels and restaurants.
Stance on Online Gambling
Online gambling in Finland is legal. The government-controlled monopoly, Ray launched online casinos back in 2010 and have increasingly admitted new members every year. The profits from online gambling have not been sizable compared to that amassed by similar offshore gambling sites. This could be attributed to the fact that the odds given in such online games are not much attractive.
Since there are no laws forbidding Finland residents from registering and playing in offshore online gambling websites, most online players tend to go for such online gambling operators. The chief reason for this is that these offshore gambling companies offer better odds than the government-run gambling websites. Another reason why the Finns prefer the out-of-the-country online sites is that such sites offer a variety of gambling games.
Stance on Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Gambling
Cryptocurrency gambling is a steadily growing industry. Different national governments have adopted different positions regarding the legalization of cryptocurrency related operations. Most Western nations have relaxed their stance on cryptocurrencies hoping that this will accelerate innovation and perhaps bring more light on the significance of cryptocurrencies in the economy. Finland treats cryptocurrencies as assets and, therefore, those who trade cryptocurrencies are obliged to pay taxes applicable to any other form of asset.
Regarding cryptocurrency betting, the government Parastatals in charge of running gambling operations in Finland have not developed a cryptocurrency gambling product. However, since Finnish gambling regulations do not prohibit the citizens from gambling in foreign sites, the Finnish players interested in cryptocurrency gambling can sign up for such products in the offshore websites.
Regulatory Authorities and Important Laws
There are three state bodies which have been running all the gambling operations in Finland.
- RAY: This body has been controlling all table games and slot machine gambling activities in Finland.
- Veikkaus Oy: This body has been controlling all instant games, the national lottery and sports betting games in Finland.
- Fintoto Oy: Horse racing and associated gambling activities have been under the control of this body.
These three state bodies were later on merged in 2017 to form Veikkaus, which was entrusted with the role of running all the gambling operations in Finland.
Finland has one Act which has most of the clauses detailing gambling regulations and requirements for the entities which would like to engage in gambling. This is the Lotteries Act.
This act stipulates that all gaming activities carried out in Finland should be licensed. The license is required for all gambling operators who run money lotteries, those who have slot machines, and those running various betting businesses. This law also enforces the state-run gambling monopolies by limiting the number of licenses issued to one per each type of gambling operation.
For several years, the Finnish government has conducted all gambling activities using the state-based monopolies. Despite the pressure by the European Union to open up this market to European Union private sector, the Finland government has not done much to respond to these pressures.
Though it is true that the Finnish government invests the proceedings of the different gambling activities in social projects which benefit its people, they still lose income which could be gained from the taxation of private gambling entities if they had allowed them in the country. Added to this, Finns still engage in offshore gambling benefitting foreign countries where these international gambling websites are based. If Finland had allowed these international companies to carry out their operations within the Finland country these would translate to extra benefits in terms of revenues and job creation.