Overview of the online gambling industry in Finland
There are only 16 land-based casinos in Finland, but this does not stop gambling being extremely popular in the country. The majority of Finnish people prefer to use online casinos.
These kasinot netissa (casinos in the Finnish language) give people the opportunity to enjoy playing slot machines by top developers, such as Swedish brand NetEnt, that continue to provide new content to keep players entertained.
The popularity of slot machines in Finland
Slot machines are a common sight in Finland. You can see them in supermarkets, restaurants and shops. This is hardly surprising given the love of gambling in the country. The Finnish people spend over two billion euros a year on casino gaming. This is a considerable sum, given that there is a population of just over five million.
This is seen as a good thing in the country as the profits from the use of slot machines, and other forms of gambling, are spent on improving things in the country. This is due to the fact that the gambling industry in the country is run under a monopoly, by state-owned Veikkaus Oy.
The Veikkaus Oy monopoly
Veikkaus was formed in 2017. Previously, there were three separate state-owned agencies, Veikkaus, Fintoto and Finland’s Slot Machine Association. Veikkaus gambling halls are a familiar sight across the country and are popular with many people.
As mentioned earlier in this article, this gambling activity that is overseen by Veikkaus helps to fund various state initiatives. 53% of the profits made are directed to the Ministry of Education and Culture. This means that more money can be spent on youth projects. 43% of the profits go to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and are spent on social welfare. The remaining 4% of profits go to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Why online casinos are different
Although no independent companies are allowed to set up gambling operations within Finland, people can currently still choose to play at online international casinos. The casinos themselves are only too happy to welcome Finnish players.
Hundreds of privately owned online casinos allow people from Finland to play casino games in this way. This is the case even though they are not technically deemed to be legal. This is because there is currently no legislation that specifically prohibits people from visiting these casinos.
The threat to the Veikkaus Oy monopoly
Given the obvious appetite for foreign online casinos in Finland, it’s interesting to take a look at the potential threat to the Veikkaus monopoly. Interestingly, a survey conducted by polling specialists Bilendi in March 2019 found that 31% of Finns supported the abolition of the gambling monopoly while 27% were against it. The remainder of those polled were undecided.
There is no doubt that independent online casino operators are certainly disrupting the casino gaming landscape in the country. They are offering a wider range of choice to players. However, that is not the end of the story.
Veikkaus Oy fights back
In 2019, Veikkaus stated that it would be investing EUR 4 million and 8 million to improve its online gambling offering. This is obviously an effort to fight off the threat from foreign operators.
This money will be used to invest in the creation of new online casinos that will be operated under the state monopoly. Veikkaus has also announced a partnership with International Games Technology. The partnership will last for four years. It should mean that players will have access to a wider range of slots, as well as table games and video poker.
This is a major expansion for Veikkhaus, as the state-owned company aims to entice players away from other providers. They are definitely starting to concentrate more on the online market.
Veikkhaus may be helped by proposed changes in the law which will make it more difficult for Finns to deposit and play at foreign online casinos. However, the passing of these laws is far from certain.
It will be interesting to see whether Finland continues with its current system and tries to enforce the state’s monopoly on gambling, including online casinos. There are many people who are encouraging the Finnish government to opt for a casino licensing system instead, as is the case in many other countries.