Changes to gambling laws in Finland

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Finnish Parliament approved the Finnish Gambling law reform at the end of 2021. Most of the changes entered into force 1st of January 2022, and the rest will be implemented 1st of January 2023. The new law aims to strengthen the position of government-owned betting agency Veikkaus and to reduce the harm caused by gambling.

There has been a lot of talk about this reform in the Finnish gambling community. Especially the payment blocking scheme has raised lots of questions among online gamblers. So how does this reform affect online gambling in Finland? This is what we will explore in this article.

Blacklist and administrative penalties

The majority of the changes in gambling laws are related to marketing. If the National Police Board determines that a gambling company is infringing the marketing prohibitions specified in the Lotteries Act, it will be placed on a blacklist. If a company is on a blacklist, it will be subject to payment blocking starting on the 1st of January 2023.

In addition, the National Police Board may give penalty payments to gambling companies not complying with the Finnish gambling laws. If the company immediately removes the advertisements in question, they can avoid the penalty.

Because of these new measures, many online casinos have already stopped advertising on the Finnish market. But even though Finnish players won’t see advertisements for these casinos, they can continue playing on them as before.

Payment blocking scheme

One of the things that has worried Finnish online casino players the most is the new payment blocking scheme. However, there is no need to worry, at least yet. The payment blocks will be implemented in 2023 at the earliest, and only casinos on the blacklist will be subject to these blocks.

The idea is that the payment providers should block Finnish players’ deposits to the casinos on the blacklist. It is still a bit unclear which payment providers will be affected by this new scheme, and how the blocks would be implemented in practice. It would be very difficult for the banks to tell which transactions are related to gambling, and the costs related to the development of the systems required would be enormous.

Even if the Finnish banks manage to block payments to the casinos that have infringed the marketing prohibitions, there would still be several other payment methods that Finnish players could use, such as e-wallets and prepaid payment cards. It is highly unlikely that these payment methods would be affected by the payment blocks.

Will playing on online casinos still be possible?

The Finnish Gambling law reform might make finding online casinos suitable for one’s needs a bit more challenging, as gambling companies won’t be able to advertise like before. It might make depositing to online casinos a bit more difficult as well.

However, the law reform does not change the fact that playing on online casinos is still completely legal – and so is offering casino games to Finnish players. And since it won’t be possible to block all the payment methods available, Finnish players will still be able to play on online casinos in the future – even after all the changes defined in the revised law have been implemented.

This article was written in cooperation with KasinoRanking