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Legal & RegulatoryIndustry

EGBA calls Finnish government’s payment blocking “missed opportunity”

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has labelled the Finnish government’s proposal regarding payment blocking a “missed opportunity”.

FinlandStop

Finland’s parliament recently approved an amended version of a government proposal aiming to restrict Finns from accessing non-Finnish gambling websites.

Justified on consumer protection grounds, it will introduce blocking measures for payment service providers (PSP), preventing Finnish citizens from conducting transactions on unauthorised foreign gambling sites.

However, some ministers had previously called the proposal “unconstitutional” based on concerns about players being unable to access their winnings, and EGBA stated it may be less effective than the Finnish government hopes.

Based on the trade association’s experience from other countries, PSP and similar blocks have a limited impact on consumer demand.

“Experience from other countries shows that PSP and other blockings do not significantly affect consumer demand and, with its introduction, EGBA believes that policy makers have missed an opportunity for meaningful and overdue gambling reform in Finland,” remarked the organisation.

This proposal is part of Finland’s amended Lottery Act, which was passed by the country’s parliament at its first reading.

It establishes tighter controls for offshore operators and implements additional safeguards for the nation’s gambling monopoly, Veikkaus.

Finland is the only EU member state that operates an exclusive online gambling monopoly model, but Veikkaus has come under scrutiny in recent years amid increasing pressure from consumers for more online choice.

EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer believed the government’s PSP block is tacit acknowledgment of this fact. He stated: “The introduction of PSP blockings is an implicit admission that many of Finland’s gamblers prefer to bet on other websites rather than that of the state-run monopoly.

“There are many reasons why they do so: the availability of better betting odds, and better diversity and expertise in the products offered, are to name a few.”

Despite its criticism, EGBA welcomed wider discussion around gambling policy, saying: “At the same time, EGBA welcomes the growing discussion both in the country’s parliament and in wider society about the future of Finland’s gambling policy.

“EGBA members are established, licensed and regulated in most EU member states and would welcome the opportunity to apply for a license, be regulated and pay taxes in Finland — but are still prevented from doing so by the country’s current gambling laws.”

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