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Finland Gets More Time to Explain Gambling Monopoly

The EU has given Finland more time to prepare a report explaining the state monopoly on gambling. The deadline was pushed back from early summer to autumn, following claims of discrepancies in the Finnish and Swedish language versions of the EU request.

At the heart of the matter is the perception by the EU that Finland's state monopoly on gambling is at odds with EU policies on free market operations. The view of the Finnish Interior Ministry is that there is no conflict between the Finnish model and EU market principles.

Th EU Commission is demanding similar explanations from six other EU countries. For the moment, Finland is the only country that has asked for extra time to prepare a brief on the matter.

Part of the background to the current stand-off involves a complaint filed with the EU by Ladbrokes, the world's largest betting organisation. According to Ladbrokes, gambling monopolies should be broken apart and opened up to free competition. For the betting body, the Finnish request for more time over the language issue amounts to a delay tactic.

Currently, only a few organisations in Finland enjoy the protection of operating exclusively in the betting business: The Finnish Slot Machine Association, the Finnish lottery organisation Veikkaus and the race-trotting body Finntoto. Annual turnover in the Finnish gambling industry is more than two billion euros.

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