Finnish police investigate alleged illegal marketing by Malta-based gambling operator
Finnish authorities have launched an investigation into a Malta-based company for alleged illegal advertising aimed at Finnish customers.
While the Finnish National Police Board (NPB) did not disclose the company’s name, Finnish public broadcaster Yle has identified the company as Gammix.The NPB accuses Gammix of using aggressive marketing tactics to promote gambling games via various channels, including text messages, websites, and social media influencers.
The company’s Finnish-language marketing campaign even targeted minors through unsolicited text messages, according to the NPB.
Chief inspector Johanna Syväterä said the marketing campaign was not related to existing customer relationships and was intended to expand the operator’s customer base.
Gammix allegedly used Finnish-language affiliate websites and social media influencers with limited recognition outside Finland to promote its campaign.
The Finnish authorities are particularly concerned about the marketing of gambling products to minors.
Increase in reports
The NPB said that its own marketing campaign has been instrumental in raising awareness of illegal gambling advertising practices and has helped to receive notifications from citizens.
In January, the NPB released a series of social media ads that have created controversy in the iGaming industry due to the nature of their content.
According to Syväterä, the campaign had a significant impact on increasing marketing-related notifications, with almost a 33% increase observed.
This has enabled authorities to focus their surveillance efforts on areas with the most active marketing activities.
In mainland Finland, the marketing of gambling is strictly prohibited, outside of advertising monopoly operator Veikkaus.
The NPB has sent a request for clarification to Gammix and may impose a fine for illegal marketing practices.
iGaming NEXT has also reached out to Gammix and the NPB for comment.Finland’s Lotteries Act empowers authorities to impose administrative penalties on companies, up to 4% of their turnover and a maximum of €5m.
The Finnish authorities are determined to take action against operators who advertise their products to Finnish players, despite the ban.
Last month, Gammix was hit with a €4.4m fine in the Netherlands for ignoring a cease-and-desist order from the regulator.
Eurosport case overturned
However, just yesterday (19 April) the Helsinki Administrative Court overturned the NPB’s decision to ban gambling advertising on Eurosport 1 (Finland).
The NPB had prohibited the TV channel from marketing gambling products on the channel.
The NPB argued that the gambling ads shown on Eurosport Finland, which were broadcast from France to Finland, were not permitted by the Lotteries Act.
However, the Administrative Court found the decision to be in violation of the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD).
The Court ruled that the NPB had restricted the transmission of television broadcasts from another EU member state in Finland, which was against the AV Directive.
The decision can still be appealed to Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court.
“The ruling was well-written and left no doubts. I would consider it a waste of resources for the NPB to appeal,” Antti Koivula, partner and legal adviser at Finnish gaming law firm Legal Gaming told iGaming NEXT.
He stressed that the ruling is significant as it is the first time a Finnish court has examined the NPB’s authority to intervene in TV broadcasts from another EU state.
Nonetheless, Koivula believes the the impact of the case will be limited, as it only concerned the AVMSD and not the Finnish Lotteries Act.
Finland is currently in the spotlight as the country is removing its monopoly model on gambling and considering the introduction of a licensing system.
Finland is currently the centre of attention in the iGaming industry as the country is in the process of removing its monopoly model on gambling and considering the introduction of a licensing system.