Reader ‘s opinion Gambling should move to a licensing system

Digitalisation has changed Veikkaus’ operating environment so much that its de facto monopoly on the online channel is already gone.

Gambling discussion is busy in Finland. Beneficiaries who depend on Veikkaus’ income have lobbied for their funding, and the campaign has even received support from ministers.

Indeed, a full compensation of approximately EUR 300 million for the organizations will be entered in the state budget with debt money. At the same time, the state intends to support Veikkaus’ monopoly position through payment blocking.

Veikkaus the monopoly is based on the prevention of gambling disadvantages. The company is increasingly being held accountable because much of the revenue comes from players who can’t afford to lose their money. Due to responsibility requirements, slot machines are becoming mandatory identification, which will permanently reduce revenues.

Anyway, Veikkaus’ returns have been declining since 2018, and the coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this trend. The time of billions in revenue is inevitably history, and now we must look to the future.

Veikkaus in order to increase revenues, the government is proposing to block gambling payments to foreign gaming accounts. The government has already made a decision in principle on the blocking measures, although the Ministry of the Interior is still investigating the addition of blocking legislation.

Blocks are justified by the reduction of gambling problems, although in practice there is money in the background. At the same time, the Board is paving the way for Veikkaus to enter the international market. In that case, the company would no longer be a monopoly to which the EU has granted an exclusive right.

Other EU countries have already abandoned gaming monopolies and opted for a licensing system – Sweden most recently in 2019. Apart from Finland, Norway is the only European country that still has a monopoly. In addition, payment blocking has been in place in Norway for some time and has proved ineffective. Gaming problems have not been reduced by blocking measures either.

Digitalisation has changed Veikkaus’ operating environment so much that its de facto monopoly on the online channel is already gone. It is wishful thinking that the internet could be effective in preventing gambling.

We would all benefit from a shift to a licensing system instead of desperate support for the monopoly. This should be done quickly, when Veikkaus’ market share is still large, and the company would continue to be a strong player.

State when indebted at a tremendous rate every tax euro is needed. Why not tax all gambling in Finland when the licensing system would allow this?

It would also be in the interests of those with gambling problems that the entire gaming market be brought under Finnish regulation. The transition to a licensing system is only a matter of time.

Kari Rajainmäki

chairman

Finnish Sports Betting Association

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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