Reform of the Lotteries Act aims to combat gambling-related harm more effectively
The Lotteries Act regulating gambling will be amended. The key proposals of the reform include preventing the harm caused by gambling, combating marketing that violates the Lotteries Act, and directing the demand for gambling towards services that are provided under the Lotteries Act. The Government submitted to Parliament a proposal to reform the Lotteries Act on 23 September 2021.
In line with the Government Programme, the basic premise of the reform is that Finland’s gambling system will also in the future be based on the state monopoly. The proposal builds on the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government, which states that the Government will implement the second phase of the reform of the Lotteries Act.
The key objective of the reform of the Lotteries Act is to reduce gambling-related harm. In accordance with this objective, the identification of players will be extended to cover all gambling, intervention by the National Police Board in unlawful marketing will be strengthened, and the prevention of harm must be taken into account in the placement of slot machines in the future.
Compulsory identification to be extended to cover all gambling
The requirement to identify players would be extended to all of Veikkaus Oy’s games. Compulsory identification would be introduced in stages. All gambling would require identification in 2023 at the latest. With regard to scratch cards, identification would be started later, but no later than in 2024.
Comprehensive compulsory identification makes it possible to introduce restrictions and gambling blocks in all gambling offered by Veikkaus.
Veikkaus introduced, on its own initiative, compulsory identification at decentralised slot machines in January 2021 and in the company’s own game rooms in July 2021.
Tougher regulation on marketing of gambling
According to the proposed reform, the Lotteries Act would specify, among other things, the content and means of permitted marketing. The legislative proposal requires that marketing, as a whole, be moderate. The marketing of particularly harmful games of chance, such as slot machines, would be prohibited.
In visual or printed advertising, the Act would oblige parties to include information about the age limit for gambling, the possibility to self-impose a gambling block and services providing help for gambling problems.
The marketing of betting games, which is currently prohibited, would be allowed to direct gambling towards the range of services provided under the Lotteries Act. The amendment would also apply to such totalisator betting where marketing is currently prohibited. The marketing of these games would also be subject to the obligations under the amended regulation on marketing.
Measures will also be taken to intensify the monitoring of marketing to ensure compliance with the Lotteries Act. The National Police Board could propose to the Market Court that, as a new tool, an administrative penalty payment be imposed for marketing that violates the Lotteries Act. In future, the National Police Board could also prohibit private individuals from marketing gambling activities when marketing violates the Lotteries Act.
Blocking of payment transactions to prevent gambling outside the monopoly system
The legislative proposal would introduce the blocking of payment transactions. The blocking 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 National Police Board would maintain a blocking list of gambling companies whose payment transactions should be blocked by banks and other payment service providers. Blocking payment transactions is meant to influence the availability of gambling services and thus prevent harm.
Prevention of harm must be taken into account in the placement of slot machines
As a result of the legislative reform, Veikkaus would have an obligation to take the prevention of harm into account when selecting locations for slot machines. Furthermore, slot machines should be located in places where their use can be monitored without hindrance. Particular attention should be paid to protecting minors and vulnerable persons.
In addition, Veikkaus and the establishments providing space for slot machines would have to draw up a plan for self-supervision to ensure monitoring and the compliance with the principles of preventing harm.
Veikkaus could engage in business-to-business activities
The legislative reform would allow Veikkaus to establish a subsidiary for activities other than gambling. The subsidiary would focus on providing gambling products and services to other companies but it would not be allowed to provide gambling services to consumers.
The amendments are scheduled to enter into force in stages. Most amendments would enter into force at the beginning of 2022. The regulation on the blocking of payment transactions is scheduled to enter into force at the beginning of 2023.
Akseli Koskela, State Secretary, tel. +358 44 2771780, [email protected]
Jukka Tukia, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 573, [email protected]
Elina Rydman, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 586, [email protected]