What Are Gambling Laws in Finland?

Finland is ranked the happiest country in the world, at least from the point of view of Finns themselves. According to numerous surveys, citizens of Finland feel much happier than people in other countries. The reason for Finns’ happiness stems not only from the country’s economic prosperity but also from its laws. Laws in Finland are fair and often so lax that to some people they might seem counterintuitive if not downright illogical.

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Gambling is part of the Finnish way of life

Take gambling, for example. Whereas in many countries, including the United States, casinos and online betting are outlawed, gambling in Finland is considered a virtue. Since the beginning of the 20th century, gambling has firmly become associated in the minds of Finnish people with patriotism. By betting, they contribute to the betterment of their country.

These days, the state-owned national betting agency Veikkaus annually gives about one billion euros in profit to government ministries and more than €200 million in taxes. These charitable donations constitute nearly two percent of the government budget and are used for social projects such as sporting events, arts, science, and education. With this positive general outlook on gambling, Finns eagerly visit land-based casinos in Helsinki and Mariehamn or wager in new online casinos – uudet nettikasinot – that have lately been gaining in popularity among people of all ages and professions.

Statistically, Finns spend about €2 billion a year on various games of chance, which makes Finland the fourth most gambling country in the world.

A state-controlled monopoly

The gambling industry in Finland is clearly mapped. The country has a state-controlled monopoly on land-based and online gambling, dividing responsibilities between three separate official entities: RAY, Veikkaus Oy, and Fintoto Oy. These three organizations also supervise several official gambling sites in Finland – NordicBet, UniBet, PAF.com, and Betsson.

RAY is responsible for all land-based casinos, table games, slot machines, and such casino games as roulette. Veikkaus takes care of the national lottery, sports betting, and instant win games. Fintoto organizes horse racing. In addition to these three organizations, there is Paf, a money gambling operator based on the Aland Islands. Paf offers games on cruise ships and online. It also manages one land-based casino at the Arkipelag Hotel & Casino in Mariehamn. PAF.com is licensed by the UK’s Gambling Commission and operates in many regulated markets.

Finns also use foreign gambling websites

Apart from online gambling managed by these four organizations, Finns often wager on foreign gambling websites. Although foreign online casinos are banned in Finland, they accept financial transactions from its citizens. Some of the biggest gambling companies even have websites written in Finnish and Swedish languages.

In some cases, Finnish customers are even preferred to clients from other countries. 888sport, for instance, blocks Americans but welcomes players from Finland, and so do other, even the most strictly regulated gambling websites. While barring Americans, foreign websites offer welcome and first deposit bonuses to Finns and create mobile versions of their websites for Android or Samsung so that they can place a bet from any physical place in the world.

Finnish players are, therefore, not restricted to betting only on licensed websites. They can choose Bet365, Betfair, 888sport, or Betway, on each of which they are invited to enjoy sports betting, online poker, casino games, and bingo. There is no forthcoming change of laws in Finland concerning offshore betting, so meanwhile, Finns can safely continue trying to make their fortunes online.

Interesting related article: “What is Gambling?