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The Aim of the Reform of the Finnish Lottery Act is to Combat Gambling Disadvantages More Effectively

October 2, 2021 | Legal

Ministry of the Interior

FINLAND (September 23, 2021) — The law on lotteries, which regulates gambling, will be reformed. The key proposals of the reform are to combat the disadvantages of gambling, to address marketing in violation of the Lottery Act and to divert gambling demand to supply regulated by the Lottery Act. On 23 September 2021, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal to amend the Lotteries Act.

In accordance with the Government Program, the starting point for the law reform is that the Finnish gambling system will continue to be based on an exclusive system. The proposal is based on Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government program to implement the second phase of the law on lotteries.

The main goal of the reform of the Lottery Act is to reduce the disadvantages of gambling. In line with the goal, the identification of gambling will be extended to all gambling, the possibilities of the Police Board to intervene in illegal marketing will be strengthened and the prevention of harm must be taken into account in the placement of slot machines in the future.

Mandatory authentication extends to all forms of gambling

Mandatory identification would be extended to all Veikkaus Oy’s games. Mandatory identification would be introduced in stages. All gaming would have been identified by 2023 at the latest. For scratch cards, identification would be moved later, but no later than 2024.

Comprehensive mandatory identification enables the introduction of restrictions and game bans in all gambling offered by Veikkaus.

Veikkaus has voluntarily introduced mandatory authentication in decentralized ATMs in January 2021 and in the company’s own gaming halls in July 2021.

Gambling marketing tightening

The revised Lotteries Act provides clarifications on, among other things, the content and means of permitted marketing. The bill requires marketing as a whole to be moderate. The marketing of particularly harmful gambling games, such as slot machines, would be banned.

The law would oblige to include in pictorial or printed advertising information about the age limit for gambling, the possibility to apply for a ban on gambling, and services that help with gambling problems.

In order to divert gambling to the supply regulated by the Lottery Act, the marketing of betting games currently prohibited would be allowed. The change would also apply to toto games, the marketing of which is currently prohibited. The marketing of these games would also be subject to the obligations under the revised marketing rules.

The control of marketing in violation of the Lottery Act will also be intensified. As a new tool, the Police Board could submit an administrative penalty fee to the Market Court for marketing in violation of the Lottery Act. In the future, the Police Board could also prohibit individuals from marketing gambling in violation of the Lottery Act.

Payment blocking for non-exclusive gambling

The bill proposes the introduction of payment blocking. The object of the blockade would be gambling companies which, in violation of the Lottery Act, direct their marketing to mainland Finland and whose marketing has been prohibited by the Police Board.

The police board would maintain a block list of gambling companies whose payment transactions should be blocked by banks and other payment service providers. Blocks are intended to prevent harm from affecting the accessibility of gambling.

Harm prevention must be taken into account when placing ATMs

With the legal reform, Veikkaus would be obliged to take into account the prevention of disadvantages in the placement of ATMs. In addition, ATMs should be positioned so that their use can be monitored without hindrance. Particular attention should be paid to the protection of minors and the vulnerable.

In addition, Veikkaus and the ATM operator should draw up a self-monitoring plan to ensure that the principles of control and harm prevention are implemented.

An opportunity for Veikkaus to do business between companies

The legal reform would enable the establishment of a subsidiary of Veikkaus for non-gambling activities. The subsidiary would focus on providing gaming products and services to other companies and would not engage in consumer gambling activities.

The laws are to come into force in stages. Most of the amendments to the law will enter into force at the beginning of 2022. The regulation on payment blocking is scheduled to enter into force at the beginning of 2023.

SOURCE: Ministry of the Interior press release.

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