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The Helsinki Administrative Court has handed down an interim ruling in favour of Betsson’s appeal against a marketing prohibition order in Finland.

In May, the Finnish National Police Board (NPD) took action against Betsson’s BML Group subsidiary for advertising extensively across the country on various channels.

The regulatory body issued a prohibition order against such activity, to commence from 3 June, along with a record €2.4m conditional fine which would have been enforced if BML Group did not comply.

The prohibition order was designed to stop Betsson from marketing in Finland by forbidding the use of Finnish celebrities in campaigns, as well as the publication of podcasts, videos, and articles to promote Betsson offerings, and even affiliate marketing activity.

Betsson was widely expected to appeal the order, and it did so on 29 May.

iGaming NEXT understands the Helsinki Administrative Court has ruled as part of an interim decision published on 2 June that the NPB cannot enforce the prohibition order until it has permanently decided on the appeal.

“We have won the request for interim measures and the court has agreed that there is no reason to enforce the prohibition order until there is a final decision on the appeal,” a Betsson Group spokesperson told iGaming NEXT.

“This means the prohibition order is not in force,” they confirmed.

This development has been described as “exceptional” by Finnish gaming expert and iGaming lawyer Antti Koivula as there is no precedent for such a ruling, with appeal deliberations often taking up to 18 months.  

“We are not aware of an interim decision having ever been made like this,” he added.

The rationale for the court’s interim judgement is still to be confirmed, although some sources have suggested it could centre on the NPB’s payment blocking order.

As part of the prohibition order, Betsson subsidiary BML Group was destined to be added to the regulator’s payment service provider (PSP) blacklist.

This new addition to the law came into force on 1 January 2022, but was scheduled to be enforced from 2023.

However, the court’s decision will likely be viewed as something of a roadblock for the NPB, whose PSP blocking powers had already been approved by the Finnish government.

On the contrary, the news will provide a welcome boost for international operators that intend to offer their services to Finnish consumers.

The online gambling industry had been watching this case closely.

If the order was applied, Betsson and other operators would have been forced to cease marketing for fear of facing substantial fines and payment blocks in the country.

As it stands, international operators will be content to continue marketing in the country in the absence of a sufficiently deterrent legal ruling.

The case is far from over. A final decision will still need to be reached amid a judicial process that could take months, with both parties reportedly ready to appeal against an unfavourable verdict.

Finland is currently in the spotlight as the country is removing its monopoly model on gambling and is considering the introduction of a licensing system.

Following the interim decision on BML Group, domestic regulators will be hoping to avoid a “free for all” scenario in the intervening period between now and the launch of an alternative licensing framework.