Nordic governments face growing calls to reform state-owned gambling operations in 2023

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While the end of Finland’s gambling monopoly model seems ever more likely, Swedish trade organisation BOS has insisted on change at state-run gambling operator Svenska Spel.

“The current gambling system needs to be changed,” Velipekka Nummikoski, vice president of Finnish state-owned gambling and lottery monopoly Veikkaus told Finnish news agency STT yesterday (28 December).

“A situation where Veikkaus has a formal but not actual monopoly” is not in anyone’s interest, Nummikoski said.

In August, Veikkaus CEO Olli Sarekoski kickstarted a fresh discussion on Finnish gambling regulation.

He stressed that Finland needs to start thinking about bringing all gambling under the same regulation as Veikkaus’ online revenue and market share dropped significantly.

This move would mean dismantling Veikkaus’ monopoly and switching to an international licensing model.

“The discussion has been heating up for quite some time now and there appears to be very little disagreement,” Antti Koivula, partner and legal adviser at Finnish gaming law firm Legal Gaming, commented on LinkedIn today (29 December).

Koivula previously told iGaming NEXT that he expects Finland to have a licensing system in place by 2026.

With three months to the Finnish parliamentary elections, Koivula now wrote that the main question is whether the current government will initiative the process prior to the elections, or if the industry will have to wait for the next government to do it.

Meanwhile in Sweden, Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of the Swedish trade association for online gambling BOS, urged the government to sell the betting and online casino part of governmental gambling operator Svenska Spel in 2023.

In an opinion piece for Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Hoffstedt stressed the state should have no particular advantage in this market and that the presence of Svenska Spel is an infringement on commercial gambling.

There are currently 70 licensed operators in the competitive market fighting for market share, and Hoffstedt argued that competition is already fierce and would remain so without the state’s presence as a commercial casino operator and bookmaker.

“Normally, the state engages in business activities when the market itself has failed, above all in terms of competition,” Hoffstedt wrote.

“However, no one who has followed developments in the Swedish gambling market can claim that there is too little competition between the 70 companies that operate in competitive gambling,” he added.

Hoffstedt concluded that the Swedish government needs to establish a “fundamental distinction” between being the ruler setter of the Swedish gambling industry and a commercial operator.

About the author

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Sonja Lindenberg

Sonja Lindenberg is an experienced editor and journalist, with a strong focus on business, finance, trade and investment. She holds a degree in business journalism and throughout the past two decades has covered companies and industries in various markets and for different media, including newspapers, news agencies, inflight magazines, country reports and trade publications. Sonja joined iGaming NEXT in June 2022.

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