Gambling activities in Finland are legalized, but the legislation on the matter is somewhat complex. There is a monopoly structure that is usually described as "3+1”. At present, the gaming market is divided between three entities that are controlled by the state: Fintoto Oy, RAY and Oy Veikkaus AB. At a national level gambling is found to be very attractive as it is one of the most popular pastimes in the country.
Betting operations are legal on the territory of the country, but both gambling and lotteries are illegal when operated for private purposes. The licenses for any gambling operator, whether land-based or online, are given by the Government. There is also a specific part of the legislation that states the fact that only one license at a time is valid for each kind of gambling and gaming activities.
As previously explained there are three organizations that operate in the field. Each of them runs and manages a different segment of gambling. Table games and slot machines are overseen by RAY which also provides a variety of brick-and-mortar gambling games, the national lottery and sports betting are managed by Oy Veikkaus AB, while horse race betting is controlled by Fintoto Oy.
Neither one of these organizations has jurisdiction over the Åland Islands. All such activities in that territory are supervised by PAF. This happens because this area has an autonomous statute, which is the reason why all gambling activities are subjected to a separate regulator.
Lottery Act 491/65 is the main law that sets up laws that concern money games. This law came into force on the 1st of January 1966, and ever since it has remained the basic gambling regulation. At present, we can say that the gaming system can be described as a licensing system that is based on exclusivity.
The Act provides some major definitions and descriptions. For example, it classifies slot machines, bingo, and casinos that offer prizes of money and commodities as lotteries.
When it comes to funding charity activities, money gambling operations play an important part. This process is also regulated by the Lottery Act, which states the way that the proceeds of the three major gaming operators must be used.
Ever since 1993 a reform has been on the agenda for the Lottery Act 491/65. In 2000 the proposed changes, that made possible the current “3+1” monopoly system, were introduced to the country's Parliament. Two years later the alterations in the Finnish gambling system officially happened.
According to the Lottery Act, different licenses are issued for different activities, such as operating money lotteries, betting and pools, for managing slot machine, casino games and other casino activities. Another type of license is the one given to operators who run totalisator betting. What you should know is the fact that only one license can be granted for each of these activities at a time.
This way there has been created a regulated monopoly. The efforts have been focused on protecting everyone involved in gaming activities, as well as preventing gambling from becoming a means of criminal activities. This is also a reason why no other than these three state-run operators is allowed to offer gaming services in Finland.
As what regards the licenses, they can only be issued for a maximum of half a decade at a time. They are granted to operators by the Government which also has the power to cancel the provided licenses.
Until now, online gambling activities in Finland are restricted to the state-owned operators. Back in 1996 the state legalized casino and gaming operations with the authorization of Veikkaus to provide such services on the Internet too.
In the province of the Åland Islands, PAF controls online gambling. PAF was actually the first operator in the country that offered bingo and online casino games on their website in 2007. This was the source of conflict between PAF and RAY.
In 2010, RAY also launched its own casino website after recognizing the right of PAF to regulate gambling in Åland Islands. Later, the other two state-controlled bodies, Fintoto and Veikkaus, also got the permission to offer gambling services via the Internet.
Finland has been put under a lot of pressure from the EU which insisted that other bodies than the “3+1” should be able to offer gambling services, both in land-based casinos or over the Internet. Despite this, Finland still does not allow any other operator to provide such services.
As previously stated, foreign websites which offer gambling services are currently proclaimed as illegal. Still, Finnish players are accepted by these websites which can not be blocked by legal mechanisms. Finland does not have a criminal code that proclaims betting with an unlicensed operator, so Finnish players can go online on these websites.