Loss limit imposed for online casino gaming in Finland
There has been a global increase in the use of online casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to some countries taking action to reduce the amount of losses that people can make.
This includes action that was announced in Finland where people have been searching for uudet kasinot (new casinos in the Finnish language) to use during the pandemic. The announcement of the restrictions was made by Finland’s Interior Ministry.
What the announcement entailed
The announcement, which was made at the beginning of May, means that people who play at online casinos until at least September 30 will be subject to a strict monthly loss limit. The new limit is €500 which has been reduced from the previous loss limit of €2,000. The government also announced the suspension of lottery draws.
The reason why limits have been imposed
The limits were imposed in order to protect people who may be more likely to play at online casinos while some of their other activities are restricted. Even though many restrictions have now been lifted, the limits remain in place. This is in order to avoid further significant financial damage for people who may already be struggling financially as a result of issues caused by the pandemic and lockdown.
The limits apply to virtual betting, eBingo, online slots and table games but not to poker. In addition to these limits, individual players are expected to set their own daily and monthly loss limits. The limits are similar to those that have been implemented in Sweden.
The limits only apply to casinos run by state-owned Veikkaus. This is causing problems for the organization which is already starting to struggle as a result of competition from international online casino operators.
Blow to Veikkaus operations
The loss limits on players may have been imposed for the right reasons, but they are having a less than positive impact on Veikkaus operations. This is at a time when the organization’s profits have already been adversely affected by the lockdown during the pandemic when its arcade operations were closed.
Many people are also questioning whether the state monopoly of gambling in the country is still a good idea. There is growing pressure to implement a system of licensed casinos like that which is in place in Sweden where top game developers like NetEnt are based.
Veikkaus has tried to fight back with its own online offering but this has yet to work to any great extent. This is because, while Veikkaus based online casino revenue has increased, sports betting revenue fell dramatically when sports action ceased during lockdown.
Prospective players are also more likely to choose internationally licensed gambling sites that often provide better value for players. The Interior Ministry of Finland has acknowledged that this could be a problem, especially as the loss limits do not apply to those casinos.
Will the loss limits have a long-term effect on Veikkaus?
It remains to be seen exactly what impact the loss limits that the Finnish government has imposed will have on Veikkaus in the long-term. After all, the restrictions are due to go back to normal at the beginning of October.
However, there are definitely threats to Veikkaus that could eventually lead to a change to the online casino landscape in Iceland. The most important of these threats comes from the high level of availability of international licensed online casinos.
There is currently some discussion in Iceland about the introduction of laws to make it more difficult for people to play at these casinos. However, it remains to be seen whether these laws are introduced and whether Finland continues with the position of maintaining a state monopoly on gambling.
The loss limit that has been imposed on players at online casinos in Finland is intended to provide financial protection to players, during and after the pandemic.
However, it is encouraging players to choose international registered casinos on a more regular basis. This could have a longer term detrimental effect on Veikkaus, the organization which runs the state monopoly on casinos and gambling in the country. The overall future of Veikkaus is uncertain and will continue to be so after the loss limits are increased again, pending legal decisions in the country.