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Finland's Draft Licensing Law Does Not Include Cooling-Off Period

July 4, 2024
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Finland’s new draft law does not include a cooling-off period but “past infringements will lead to the rejection of licence applications”, according to a local legal advisor.

Finland’s new draft law does not include a cooling-off period but “past infringements will lead to the rejection of licence applications”, according to a local legal advisor.

Antti Koivula, a legal advisor for Finnish law firm Legal Gaming, highlighted the lack of a cooling-off period in a host of key points he has identified from the more than 400-page legal draft of the new gambling system, which was submitted for opinion by the Ministry of the Interior on July 3.

But he warned that those found to have infringed Finnish gambling regulations in the past could have difficulties entering the market, according to the current draft.

Among the other key elements in the pending legislation, Finland’s tax rate will be set at 22 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR).

However, Koivula told žž GamblingCompliance that it should be noted this is not a final version of the law, and it is anticipated that more changes will be implemented as we enter the discussion phase.

When it comes to advertising, he said: “There is a relatively liberal approach to marketing in terms of mass media and sponsoring; however, the use of bonuses, affiliates, and influencers will be banned.”

The new system would be introduced in stages, with the next step being to present the to parliament in the spring session of 2025, according to the Ministry of the Interior’s on July 3.

The current monopoly held by Veikkaus will continue until the end of 2026 and operators will be allowed to begin applying for licences at the start of 2026.

"The publication of the draft legislation is a welcome and essential step towards meaningful gambling reform in Finland," said Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA)

"This signals the end of comprehensive online gambling monopolies in the EU, as Finland is the last member state that still has a monopoly for online gambling. We look forward to reviewing the draft legislation over the coming weeks and engaging in continued dialogue with the Finnish Government and local stakeholders as the regulatory discussions progress.”

Finnish lawmakers had previously targeted January 2026 as the market launch date, but local stakeholders have long feared that the start of licensing could be delayed as a result of broader political turmoil in Finland.

Under the proposal, gambling software suppliers will also require a licence; however, they will not be allowed to apply for one until the start of 2027. This means operators will not be obliged to use only licensed suppliers until 2028.

A new Licensing and Control Agency (LCA) operating under the Ministry of Finance will take over gambling supervision from the National Police Board.

The LCA will be able to issue fines, revoke licences, make test purchases, monitor money laundering compliance, as well as block websites, and ban payments to unlicensed operators.

The law also proposes the creation of a new national self-exclusion system.

Veikkaus will retain some monopolies over certain products such as lottery games and scratchcards, with Finland's Council of State, the executive branch and the Cabinet of Finland, set to decide on the annual fee it will pay for its exclusive licence.

A separate business, under the same group, will be created for Veikkaus’ operations that do not fall under its exclusive licence.

The state will have the right to sell part of its ownership of Veikkaus “if this was considered justified in the future from the perspective of the development of the state's shareholder value”, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

A public consultation on the proposal has also been published by the Ministry of the Interior. 

“It is now up to the interest groups to provide their statements for the benefit of the legislative reform process within the given deadline of August 18, a task with which we will gladly assist. That being said, this draft law already provides a good overall picture of what is to come,” Koivula said.


         

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