EGBA Asks Santa for a New, Monopoly-less Gambling Regime in Finland

Finland is famous for a lot of things and being the home of Santa Claus is one of them. This year, the European Gambling and Betting Association (EGBA) has asked the jolly old man to help fix the Scandinavian nation’s gambling policy.

EGBA is a Brussels-based trade association that represents leading online gambling operators and lobbies for reasonable gambling regulations in EU countries.

Finland is currently the only EU member state where a state-run monopoly (Veikkaus) is the only entity authorized to provide land-based and online gambling products.

EGBA has long been among the staunchest and most vocal critics of the gambling monopoly model and has called on many European countries, including Finland, to switch to a regulatory framework that is better aligned to the dynamic and agile nature of the global gambling industry, especially the online sector which has grown tremendously over the past several years and is poised to grow even further and faster.

In a letter to Santa Claus (and to Finland’s lawmakers), EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer noted that Finland’s monopoly system has increasingly become impossible to maintain in the online world” because of the ease and effortlessness with which gambling customers can hop from one gaming/betting website to another.

EGBA Calls For Market Reorganization

EGBA’s boss urged Finland to replace its monopoly system with one that offers international companies the chance to obtain a license from local regulators and provide their services and products in a regulated environment.

According to a recent survey, Finns spent about 16.4% of Finland’s online gambling revenue, equivalent to €105 million in taxable revenue, on international gambling sites in 2019. The reasons why Finnish gamblers choose to gamble with foreign operators include better betting odds and return rates as well as wider product selection than that offered by Veikkaus, among other things.

Mr. Haijer further noted that Finland’s government has long maintained that the monopoly system is the one that best protects customers from suffering from problem gambling. The EGBA boss argued that this is not the case as recent figures show Finland’s problem gambling rate stands at around 3% of its population and is about ten times higher than that of Spain, a country with much larger population and no gambling monopoly.

EGBA’s comments come as Veikkaus is preparing to roll out mandatory ID verification across its slot machines after the operator faced criticism that it was not doing enough to protect its customers and help the ones that suffer from gambling addiction. Veikkaus is also set to retire 8,000 gambling machines by the end of the year as part of its revised social responsibility policies.

The operator confirmed this week that starting January 12, its slot machine players will have to verify their identity in order to be able to play on the devices. Veikkaus operates slot machines at restaurants, petrol stations, and shops as well as arcades that are owned by it across Finland.

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