Online gambling monopoly maintained by Finnish operators

Despite rumblings from the European Commission, RAY and Veikkaus will exclusively offer online action

Warnings by the European Commission as far back as 2006 that Finnish state gambling monopolies are in conflict with EU principles of free movement of goods and services appear to have gone unheeded by the Finns, judging by this week's news that RAY and Veikkaus Oy have been given the green light to exclusively offer online action.

RAY (the Finnish Slot Machine Association) and state lottery Veikkaus Oy are the main state gaming monopolies, and will be allowed to launch online poker and casino games when new and exclusive licensing legislation comes into force early next (March) month.

The monopolistic nature of the two local companies has been largely backed by the Finnish judiciary despite EC opinions and litigation by foreign competitors.

In September last year the Finnish parliament debated legislation seeking to prohibit all forms of gambling advertising including event and sports player sponsorship and branding....even where no reference is made that could be construed as enticing to gamble. The legislation was strongly supported by state and public in Finland, favouring the three monopolies Veikkaus Oy, RAY and Finntoto.

The proposals have their roots in Finnish Supreme Court recommendations following legal actions by foreign gambling companies seeking to open up the market. The monopolies were attacked for marketing gambling offers whilst justifying the monopoly on grounds of the public wellbeing and safety.

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