The Finnish Ministry of the Interior has announced new online gambling loss limits on Tuesday, with the measures lasting through September 30.
New Loss Limits Introduced in Finland Through September 30
Finland has become the latest country to introduce monthly loss gambling limits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. With strict monthly loss limits in force, and lottery draws suspended in their entirety, the country’s gamblers will have fewer opportunities to spend time online, although some fear the measure could lead to an increase in illegal and grey area gambling.
Finland’s Ministry of the Interior released a statement on Tuesday, saying that so-called “fast-paced gambling games,” would be subject to a €500 loss limit moving forward, reducing the amount from €2,000 previously. The measure was coordinated with the government-owned betting agency Veikkaus Oy.
The proposed changes will come into force on Friday, May 1 and last through September 30. They will cover all main verticals supported in the country, including bingo, virtual betting, and casino games, but not poker. Lottery draws, however, will be fully halted as of May 4, and most likely won’t be restored until September.
As part of complying with the measures, consumers will have to set a daily loss limit which cannot exceed the new total. Nordic markets have proven particularly challenging with a spate of proposed restrictive measures biting in the revenue of gambling companies.
Sweden is another Nordic country to introduce restrictive measures on online gambling, prompting companies to face new regulatory and marketing realities, and cope with falling revenue. Lithuania and Latvia have also imposed bans on online gambling or advertisement take a hit in the operating results of businesses in the sector there.
Veikkaus released a statement last week, cautioning, that weekly revenue was already falling below $21.20 million, well below the $32.60 million the company expected based on pre-outbreak forecasts.
Despite the drop, some local publications continued to cite data that the lockdown might negatively impact problem gamblers in the country. According to a survey cited by Helsinki Times, there are presently 124,000 problem gamblers in Finland.
Finland Wards Against Problem Gambling
Minister Maria Ohisalo said that the new limits were necessary to minimize the potential for gambling harm and citing consumers’ financial difficulties as another reason. If not acted immediately, Ohisalo explained, those financial difficulties could intensify in future and extend well beyond September 30.
In 2019, the Economist wrote an article about Finland’s growing gambling addiction problem, citing a survey from 2016 that 86% of the entire population had gambled at least once over the course of a year.
Veikkaus did say that there had been no signs, however, of land-based consumers migrating to online platforms, depleting the company from further revenue sources. Betting revenue has naturally fallen due to the suspension of sports globally.
Some have cautioned that if local gamers aren’t turning to online licensed options at home, they might end up registering in droves at international operators or operators licensed by grey regulatory authorities such as Curacao.
Ohisalo agreed there could be a surge in traffic towards international operators, but she also assured that the National Police Board’s Lottery Administration is working on the issue. Saaramia Varvio, head of the Lottery Administration, said that the police will monitor social media for unauthorized and illegal gambling advertisement.
Last week, Veikkaus also began negotiations with the governments to enact possible layoffs in the land-based sector should operations not be restored to normal soon. In light of the latest measures and falling land-based revenue, this seems a more likely option now.