Over the past five months, a handful of different European countries have set strict regulations on their online gambling markets. It comes in response to the rising rates of gambling addiction around the continent. This week, news is coming out that gambling ads in Finland will now be hit with a fresh new set of restrictions.
This is particularly interesting, as Finland only allows one state-run company to offer gambling services in the country. This company, called Veikkaus, will now see its marketing efforts limited substantially. What does this mean for the future of online gambling in Finland?
Gambling has been taking place in Finland for centuries. The first set of laws to regulate gambling here came before World War II. Since that time, the country’s gambling regulations have increased and paved the way for a state-operated monopoly on all forms of gambling.
For a time, there were three different entities here offering online betting services. Finland’s government controls each one. In 2017, these gaming groups came together under one complete monopoly, Veikkaus.
The EU questioned whether or not Finland had the right to organize a gaming monopoly. Lawmakers in Finland argue that it’s set in place to protect players from abuse and, in turn, gambling addiction. Eventually, the EU gave its approval of this operation.
The same monopoly exists today. Unfortunately, the idea to avoid gambling addiction has not worked. A recent study by the Institute for Health and Welfare reported that problem gambling is on the rise here.
On May 24th of 2019, Finnish police and gambling watchdog group Traficom announced they are teaming up to tackle the issue of problem gambling. These two parties plan to eliminate all gambling advertisements on both television and radio. This is the biggest step to regulate the online gambling market in Finland to date.
The aforementioned Institute for Health and Welfare supports the gambling ad ban. Last week, this government body stated that Veikkaus’ marketing efforts are “at odds with public health communication.” They believe that gambling ads should be monitored the same way tobacco and alcohol are.
Veikkaus, meanwhile, argues that their marketing efforts are in line with the current set of regulations. Velipekka Nummikoski, Managing Director of Veikkaus, believes foreign gambling companies are still to blame for aggressive marketing tactics to Finnish players. Studies indicate differently, as problem gambling here increased substantially after Veikkaus became the sole online gambling company in Finland.
Regardless of Veikkaus’ argument, gambling ads in Finland are about to increase. The inability to market on television should make a major impact on this company’s ability to target new Finnish players. Is this actually going to make a difference?
Finland is just one of many countries in Europe to begin restricting gambling advertisements. The UK, in particular, has set many new regulations over its online gambling market. Gaming companies in this country can no longer advertise towards anyone appearing to be under the age of 18.
It’s very likely that UK gambling ad laws will soon get even stricter. Sweden is another country that heavily restricts online gambling marketing efforts. This country opened its doors to foreign gambling companies in 2018.
How effective these gaming restrictions are is not clear. Gambling addiction is growing all over Europe, and lawmakers in different countries are trying anything to lower their problem gambling rates.
Veikkaus will almost certainly fight these new laws. It’s unclear when exactly the ban on gambling ads in Finland will be implemented. There are some analysts that believe Finland will soon open its doors to foreign gaming operators.
Is it fair to limit gambling ads in Finland? Will this help to lower gambling addiction in this country? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
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