Preliminary study on state monopoly system for gambling now ready
The final report of the preliminary study on the monopoly for gambling activities was submitted to the Ministry of the Interior on 17 April 2023. The objective of the project, for which the Ministry of the Interior appointed a research group on 5 January 2023, was to describe the current state of affairs and map out alternative models for the gambling system to support political decision-making.
The rapporteurs appointed for the project were Harri Sailas (chair), Tuija Brax, Riitta Matilainen and Mikko Alkio.
According to their findings, the number of people who use gambling services outside the state monopoly system has remained fairly stable in recent years (around 5–6 per cent of the population). That said, the researchers estimate that a significant amount of money is lost due to gambling outside the monopoly system, likely totalling around EUR 500–550 million per year. According to the researchers, about half of all online gambling takes place using games that fall outside the state monopoly system. Gambling outside the state monopoly also causes significant gambling-related harm, which is challenging to prevent effectively when operating within the current system.
The preliminary study examined the national gambling systems of the five reference countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and France). Of these countries, Norway has a gambling monopoly, while the others use a licence system for online gambling.
According to the report, the reference countries that have adopted a licence system have succeeded in significantly improving the channelling rate for online gambling. With respect to Norway, varying estimates of the channelling rate of the country’s state monopoly system were presented during the study. The channelling rate refers to the amount of gambling that takes place using services regulated by national legislation.
Efforts to develop the gambling system must be based on research
According to the report, it is unlikely that the channelling capacity of Finland's state monopoly system will significantly improve in the near future without changes to the current regulation. The report identifies two main options for achieving a higher channelling rate in online gambling: introducing new restrictions to prevent gambling outside the monopoly system more effectively or switching to a licence system for online gambling. The choice between these options should be based on the best available research on the benefits and disadvantages the options are likely to have for society.
The report describes the key aspects that should be taken into account in further work to develop a potential licence system in Finland. With a licence system in place, it would probably be possible to achieve a higher channelling rate for online gambling than at present. However, Finland’s ability to achieve a high channelling rate ultimately depends on detailed regulation of how the licence system will operate and on the taxation of gambling proceeds. Even with a licence system, restrictions on the illegal provision of games outside the system must be in place to support the achievement of a high channelling rate.
The report emphasises that even if a licence system is introduced, the prevention and reduction of gambling-related harm must continue to be the main objective of gambling policy. This requires strict regulation of the marketing of gambling and an extensive set of measures to prevent the harmful effects of gambling. A further prerequisite for introducing a licence system is ensuring that sufficient resources are available for effective supervision by the authorities.
According to the report, any efforts to introduce a licence system must be based on a careful assessment of the effects of the reform on society and, in particular, its likely impact on the prevalence of gambling-related harm. It is also important to ensure that enough time is reserved for preparing the regulations concerning the licence system.
Akseli Koskela, State Secretary, tel. +358 50 418 2274, [email protected]