State-owned gambling company Veikkaus has recommended that Finland consider allowing foreign online gambling and gaming companies to operate in Finland under domestic legislation.
This move would mean dismantling Veikkaus' monopoly and moving to a so-called licensing model.
In an interim report published on Wednesday, the company noted that such a move would be beneficial to the Finnish gambling sector as a whole, rather than being solely about advancing Veikkaus' own interests.
Executive Vice President Velipekka Nummikoski told Yle that the regulation of gambling in Finland currently only extends to Veikkaus, and not to foreign online gambling companies that are allowed to operate without restrictions.
"Our competitors do not operate under Finnish regulation and their licencing would change [under the proposed system]. Then everyone would operate on the same playing field," Nummikoski told Yle's Ykkösaamu breakfast show on Wednesday.
Foreign gambling companies do not pay any taxes in Finland and also do not have to comply with Finnish legislation, such as efforts to limit the harm caused by gambling addiction.
Finland's digital gambling market was valued at around 520 million euros during the first half of this year, according to the company's interim report, of which about half — 260 million euros — went to Veikkaus and the rest to foreign operators.
"In Finland we have a monopoly system, but if you look at digital gaming, Veikkaus only has half of the market share. One might wonder if we really have a monopoly system anymore," Nummikoski said.
Licensing system used in several European countries
Many other countries in Europe have introduced a licensing system to regulate the gambling industry.
In Sweden, for example, gambling companies must have a licence to operate within the country and they are also required to pay a gambling tax of 18 percent.
This tax is collected on the difference between the money spent on games and gambling, and the winnings paid out. According to Nummikoski, the Swedish example shows that the system works.
"It has achieved 90 percent channelling, which was the aim of the system. And that is the most important measure of whether or not the system is successful. There is no point in creating a licensing system that cannot channel gaming. The regulation must be set at that level," he said, referring to the strategic tool used by governments to direct gamblers away from unlicensed games and towards licensed operations.
Is Finland an attractive market for foreign gaming companies?
Currently, foreign gambling websites are not allowed to register in Finland or advertise in local media. However, there is no legislation in place that prevents users in Finland from gambling via these sites.
Nummikoski told Yle he believes that Finland would be an attractive country for foreign gambling and gaming companies if the market were opened up and a licensing system introduced.
"The very fact that games are currently being offered to Finnish customers shows that we are an attractive market. We could certainly attract a significant number of big players to Finland," he said.