Finnish Gambling Industry: What You Should Know about It


Established to engage people in various forms of gambling, casinos continue gaining in popularity around the world. The casino industry generates high revenues from people’s gambling activities and develops much faster than other industries. Statistics vividly demonstrate that a yield from global casinos increases every year and substantially so. During the last three years, the industry’s profit has jumped by 15 billion from 115 billion US dollars reaped in 2016 to 130 billion US dollars in 2019. Social casinos, which are apps or websites where people play popular casino games with their online friends, are moving upwards as well. Overall, the global casino market grew to 3.2 billion US dollars in 2018, up from 3.18 billion in 2017. From 2019 to 2024, global gambling market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.77 percent.


Not all countries are participating in the development of the casino industry, however. Some of them – North Korea, Brunei, and United Arab Emirates, among others – ban casinos altogether. Other countries have no land-based casinos on their territories but turn a blind eye to online casinos. In Japan, for example, people can gamble only from the comfort of their homes. Sometimes, countries discriminate between local citizens and foreigners: in Cambodia, only tourists can enter land-based casinos. Or discrimination is made between online casinos. Finland allows its citizens to register at any local online casino, but frowns at their gambling with foreign providers. At the same time, the Finnish government invests enthusiastically in the development of the gambling industry and encourages its citizens to visit any land-based casinos, called a “kasinot” in Finnish, considering gambling their national duty.


Indeed, a gambling situation in Finland is interesting and deserves special attention. The casino industry has always been owned by the government. In the past, it was divided in three parts, each of which was controlled by a different company. Until the 1st of January, 2017, the casino industry was monitored by RAY (The Finnish Slot Machine Association), lottery was operated by Veikkaus, and horse betting was in the hands of Fintoto. In 2017, the three companies merged and formed a larger state monopoly now called Veikkaus. The betting agency Veikkaus regulates both land-based and online casinos in Finland. Although the gambling monopoly often comes under fire, the casino industry in Finland is thriving. Last year, the Q3 report showed a profit of EUR 762.2 million, almost 43 percent of which came from online gambling.


Online casinos in Finland are of two types: licensed local websites and unlicensed foreign operators. Local virtual casinos are run by the PAF and RAY. The former controls online gambling in the Aland Province; the latter supervises the Finnish mainland.  Like Swedish online gambling, Finnish virtual casinos are gaining in popularity among players, because they offer a rich arsenal of such games as baccarat, roulette, blackjack, poker, and table games. Among the most secured licensed betting websites designed for Finnish gamblers are, Betsson, Unibet, ComeOn, and NordicBet.


Unlicensed foreign operators are not officially allowed in Finland. Wagering on foreign websites, however, is not forbidden. Finnish gamblers easily make monetary transactions to foreign websites. Although the Finnish government is rewriting now the Act on Lotteries, threatening to disallow money transactions to foreign platforms in the near future, there is no law presently in force that considers gambling with such platforms as Betway, Bet365, LeoVegas, SpeedyBet, 888sport casino a criminal offence. All what the government can do at the moment is to forbid these companies to advertise their services in Finland.


Yet even without advertisement, foreign unlicensed websites are highly popular among Finns. They provide a rich range of bonuses and attract gamblers with their advanced technology and beautiful graphics. A type of games most favored by Finnish players is themed slots. Players can dedicate gaming to any holiday they wish, from Christmas to Easter to St. Patrick Day. Men and women even demonstrate different preferences when choosing a slot machine. Although some female gamblers share men’s taste for games full of fights, they are mostly attracted to slots featuring diamonds and Disney princesses. Players can also choose a theme according to geography. The most famous online slot machine among the Finnish gamblers is based in Lapland and is called Kulta-Jaska.  The theme of this game is gold mining. Inspired by stories about legendary goldsmiths, it has already created real gold rush among online gamblers in Finland.


Themed online slots enjoy popularity also because winning on them depends on luck rather than on complicated techniques and winning strategies. Whereas in poker players should calculate every step and closely follow the game, with slot machines they should only trust that the universe will bring them a handsome profit. As no skills or strategies are required to play slot machines, people eagerly flock to them either in land-based casinos or online ones.


The review of the Act on Lotteries might drastically change the Finnish casino industry in several years. There are rumors that people will play slot machines only with a Veikkaus account. It is also possible that players will not be able to transfer money to foreign websites. Yet whatever changes the government makes to the Act on Lotteries, Finnish gambler will continue wagering, and the Finish gambling industry will continue thriving.



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