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Loss limits for Veikkaus Oy’s online gambling to be lowered

Ministry of the InteriorNational Police Board of Finland 28.4.2020 15.27 | Published in English on 30.4.2020 at 8.53
Press release 33/2020

The loss limits of Veikkaus Oy's fast-paced gambling games are to be lowered. The maximum loss limit will be lowered to EUR 500 (now 2,000) per month and EUR 500 (now 1,000) per day. Amendments to the Act will enter into force on 1 May and will remain in force until 30 September 2020. The aim of the amendments is to prevent and reduce more effectively economic, social and health harm caused by gambling during the coronavirus epidemic.

- During the coronavirus epidemic, most people spend more time at home than usual, which may increase the risk of online gambling getting out of hand. At the same time, many people are in an economically difficult situation. The purpose of the Decree is to curb the increase in the harmful effects of online gambling in emergency conditions,” says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.

In order to prevent coronavirus infections, Veikkaus Oy has closed down, for the time, all slot machines across the country, game rooms and the casino located in Helsinki. Because the coronavirus epidemic has led to the current restrictions and increased staying at home, gamblers may move to fast-paced online gambling involving particular risk of harms. Fast-paced games refer to Veikkaus Oy's eBingo, Tähdenlento, virtual betting and electronic money lotteries (online lotteries), and online casino games and slot machine games.

Apart from the maximum loss limits, in fast-paced online gambling all gamblers must set their own daily and monthly loss limits. Gamblers may change the loss limits they have set themselves. However, the limits set by gamblers cannot be higher than the maximum loss limits laid down by the Decree.

From the perspective of preventing and reducing gambling harms, lower loss limits will still be necessary even after the current restrictions caused by the coronavirus epidemic are lifted. This is justified, for example, by the fact that consumers' financial difficulties are likely to continue also after the epidemic.

Gambling by gambling companies located outside mainland Finland not to be marketed

Only Veikkaus Oy may offer gambling in mainland Finland. The lowering of the maximum loss limit may result in at least some of the players moving to gambling outside mainland Finland. It should be noted that in this case gambling would happen outside the supervision of the National Police Board under the Lotteries Act.

It is predictable that the situation will attract international actors to increase their marketing efforts and offer gambling opportunities in Finland in violation of Finnish law.

- The fact that the Ministry of the Interior decides to protect gamblers by lowering the loss limit in emergency conditions must not mean that foreign actors who violate the law would benefit from the situation, says Saaramia Varvio, Chief of Gambling Administration under the National Police Board.

Foreign gambling operators use marketing methods that are prohibited in the Finnish gambling system by the Lotteries Act. According to the National Police Board, deposit bonuses and free rounds, for example, that are used as welcome offers are not allowed in Finland because of their aggressive nature. This kind of activities undermine the ability of the Finnish system to combat the harmful effects of gambling. When gambling takes place outside mainland Finland, the National Police Board is unable to ensure the legal protection of gamblers in unclear situations.

- I would in particular call for the responsibility of Finnish public figures who market gambling. Gambling can cause significant economic, health and social concerns to many people, which can also influence families and friends. The marketing activities of public figures make gambling more everyday, lower the threshold to participate in gambling and create a distorted picture of an easy earning opportunity, Varvio continues. 

The role of the National Police Board is to monitor Veikkaus Oy's gambling activities and marketing that are based on its monopoly and to intervene in illegal activities. The National Police Board will continue to monitor marketing in social media and to take further measures against foreign television channels targeting mainland Finland. The goal is to put an end to illegal advertising on these channels. The measures are based on supervision activities carried out under the Lotteries Act.

Reform of Lotteries Act in progress

The Ministry of the Interior is currently involved in a project to determine if it is necessary to review the Lotteries Act, in particular with a view to further prevent and reduce gambling harms. The aim is also to explore legislative means to support Veikkaus Oy's operating conditions. The Ministry will examine, among other things, the extension of compulsory identification, the regulations on the marketing of gambling and the marketing that violates the Lotteries Act. The introduction of barriers to payment traffic to restrict gambling outside the monopoly will also be examined.

Inquiries:
Ministerial Adviser Jukka Tukia, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 295 488 573, [email protected]
Special Adviser to the Ministry of the Interior Jarno Lappalainen, tel.  +358 40 053 6973 (requests for interviews with the Minister of the Interior)
Head of Group Jarkko Mikkola, National Police Board, tel. +358 295 481 862, [email protected]