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Gambling monopoly losing support

As gambling moves online, politicians question whether a gambling monopoly makes sense anymore.

Since 2021, Veikkaus slot machines have included a loss limiting feature. Image: Markku Tuhkanen / Yle

Most parliamentary parties in Finland told Yle they would agree to dismantling the country's gambling monopoly, Veikkaus.

The parties, however, said they would like to see an investigation into ending the country's gambling monopoly completed ahead of issuing a final opinion on the matter.

Nearly all parties—including Sanna Marin's Social Democrats, the National Coalition and Finns Party—said they could envision the 80-year gambling monopoly coming to an end. A review of Veikkaus is scheduled to be carried out this spring.

Veikkaus' monopoly has been rooted in the idea of regulation. But as most games today happen online, people in Finland are playing games run by foreign operators.

"It's unsustainable for gaming profits to increasingly end up outside of Finland while they cause harm here," said Centre Party parliamentary group chair Eeva Kalli.

At the end of last summer, Veikkaus said its market share of online gambling in Finland was falling to 50 percent. The company has pointed out 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.

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.

Finland is one of Europe's last gambling monopolies, after Sweden switched to a licensing system in 2019. In Sweden gambling companies must have a licence to operate within the country and they are also required to pay a gambling tax of 18 percent.

"Monopolies generally aren't a good way of mitigating health dangers or other problems. They're historical remnants," said Kai Mykkänen, who heads the NCP's parliamentary group.

Mika Maliranta of the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Labore) said that solutions that were optimal in the past don't necessarily make sense in the future.

"Technological progress is a typical factor reducing the impact of monopolies on markets," he explained. "Major practical problems exist in the regulation of online gambling."

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