Finland examining ways to protect local gambling monopolies

finland-ray-veikkausFinland is looking at ways of clamping down on unauthorized online gambling operators serving Finnish punters. This week, the government’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy announced the formation of a digital monitoring group to examine methods of eradicating unauthorized operators’ presence in the Finnish market.

At present, Finnish gamblers don’t have to run any kind of digital gauntlet in order to gamble on internationally licensed dot-com sites. Finnbay reported that (for the moment) the Committee isn’t looking at blocking financial transfers as a primary method of stamping out the illegal gambling scourge, preferring to put its emphasis on eliminating the ability of these companies to market their wares through Finnish media outlets by enforcing provisions of the media firms’ broadcasting licenses. The Committee’s proposals are expected to be submitted to the government by the end of 2014.

Finland’s domestic gambling activity is controlled by Fintoto (horseracing), RAY (slot machines) and Veikkaus (lotteries and betting), with PAF holding a monopoly in Finland’s autonomous Åland islands region. In November, the European Commission decreed that the monopolies did not fall afoul of European Union guidelines following amendments to the Finnish Lotteries Act in 2012.

This week also saw RAY submit its 2013 financial report card, which revealed a 2.1% rise in revenue to €791.4m. Slot machines located on the premises of RAY’s licensed partners accounted for three-quarters of this sum (€593.3m), up 1% over 2012. RAY’s own gaming arcades saw revenue rise 1.2% to €96.1m. RAY’s Playtech-powered online casino division saw much stronger growth, rising 21.5% to over €60m. Revenue from RAY’s Casino Helsinki and restaurant casino games dipped 3% and 2.8% respectively. RAY, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013, reported an annual profit of €419.5m, up 2.8% over 2012.

Veikkaus’ 2013 report card showed total revenue rising 4.6% to €1.86b, while profit rose 1.1% to €506.3m. Pot Sports revenue fell 1.2% to €797m, daily games rose 10.1% to €657.4m and sports games rose 8.5% to €403.9m. Veikkaus’ online offering, in particular its live betting vertical, enjoyed strong growth last year, accounting for 36.3% of total revenue.