Reform of Lotteries Act aims to combat negative impacts of gambling more effectively
The Lotteries Act that regulates gambling will be amended. The focus of the reform is on preventing harm caused by gambling, combating marketing that violates the Lotteries Act, and directing the demand for gambling towards activities that are covered by the Lotteries Act. The President of the Republic approved the bill on 22 December 2021. The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2022.
In line with the Government Programme, the key premise of the reform is that Finland’s gambling system will also in the future be based on the state monopoly.
The main objective of the reform of the Lotteries Act is to prevent and reduce the negative impacts of gambling. In accordance with this objective, the identification requirement will be extended to cover all gambling, intervention by the National Police Board in unlawful marketing will be strengthened and, in future, the prevention of harm must be taken into account in the placement of slot machines.
Compulsory identification extended to cover all gambling
The requirement to identify players will be extended to all of Veikkaus Oy’s games. Compulsory identification will be introduced in stages. All gambling will require identification in 2024 at the latest.
Comprehensive compulsory identification makes it possible to introduce restrictions and gambling blocks in all gambling offered by Veikkaus Oy.
On its own initiative, Veikkaus Oy introduced compulsory identification at decentralised slot machines already in January 2021 and in the company’s own game rooms in July 2021.
The Act also lays down provisions on the use of game and player data collected as a result of the identification requirement. Veikkaus Oy is obliged to process data to identify harmful gambling and intervene in it. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare have the right to obtain data from Veikkaus Oy for the purpose of assessing and monitoring the negative impacts of gambling.
Tougher regulation on marketing of gambling
The reformed Lotteries Act further specifies the content of the marketing allowed for Veikkaus Oy. The Act requires that marketing considered as a whole must be moderate. The marketing of particularly harmful games of chance, such as slot machines, will be prohibited.
According to the Act, all advertising by Veikkaus Oy must include information on the age limit for gambling and where the player can obtain information on tools for controlling gambling and on services that offer help to address gambling problems.
The marketing of betting games, which is currently prohibited, will be allowed to direct gambling towards gambling activities regulated by the Lotteries Act. The amendment also applies to totalisator betting games whose marketing is currently prohibited. The marketing of these games will be subject to the obligations under the amended provisions on marketing.
Measures will also be taken to intensify the monitoring of marketing that does not comply with the Lotteries Act. As a new tool, the National Police Board can propose to the Market Court that an administrative penalty payment be imposed for marketing that violates the Lotteries Act. In future, the National Police Board can also prohibit private individuals from marketing gambling activities in a way that violates the Lotteries Act.
Blocking payment transactions to prevent gambling outside monopoly system
One of the new instruments to be included in the Act is the possibility to block payment transactions. This would be targeted at gambling companies that direct their marketing to mainland Finland in violation of the Lotteries Act and whose marketing has been prohibited by the National Police Board. The blocking would apply to payments concerning gambling targeted to gambling companies.
The National Police Board will maintain a list of gambling companies that should be covered by the blocking of payment transactions targeted to these by banks and other payment service providers. Blocking payment transactions is meant to influence the availability of gambling services and, thus, to prevent harm.
The regulation on the blocking of payment transactions will enter into force at the beginning of 2023.
Prevention of harm into account in placement of slot machines
The reform also means that Veikkaus Oy will have an obligation to take the prevention of harm into account when selecting locations for slot machines. Slot machines must be located in places where their use can be monitored without hindrance. Particular attention must be paid to protecting minors and vulnerable persons.
In addition, Veikkaus Oy and the establishments providing space for slot machines must draw up a plan for self-supervision to ensure monitoring and the compliance with the principles of preventing harm.
Veikkaus can engage in business-to-business activities
The legislative reform will allow Veikkaus Oy to establish a subsidiary for activities other than gambling. The subsidiary can focus on providing gambling products and services to other companies but it will not be allowed to provide gambling services to consumers.
Resolutions by Parliament
Parliament also issued two resolutions.
- Parliament requires that the Government take measures to calculate the compulsory maximum loss limits per day and month specified in the Decree of the Ministry of the Interior VN/23729/2021 with regard to gambling activities subject to identification.
- Parliament requires that the Government take measures to ensure the access to various kinds of support and treatment services for problem gamblers and their families and to financial and debt counselling services.
Akseli Koskela, State Secretary, tel. +358 295 488 526, [email protected]
Jukka Tukia, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 573, [email protected]
Elina Rydman, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 586, [email protected]