Gambling operators to merge - prevention of negative effects becomes easier

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 18.2.2016 9.39
Press release 22/2016

Finland's Slot Machine Association (RAY), Veikkaus Oy and Fintoto will be merged into a single operator. The Government has set a goal that the new gambling operator will begin its operations in the beginning of 2017.

According to the Government, a single state-owned gambling operator helps to reduce the negative social and health effects of gambling more effectively than three separate operators. Furthermore, the Government believes that a single operator is more capable of steering the gamers to play safe and controllable games. The single operator model makes it easier for the authorities to apply systematic policy when it comes to the prevention of harms caused by gambling.

The new operator could, for example, provide the gamers with gambling management tools within a single system. The system would include tools for example for monitoring one's own amount of gambling, managing the restrictions of gambling and closing a gambling account. Such tools are effective especially when they are compulsory for all gamers.

The effective prevention of harms caused by gambling reduces problem gambling. This, in turn, diminishes the burden caused by gambling problems to both individuals and society.

According to a recent study published by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the negative effects caused by gambling are showing a slight upward trend. Problem gambling especially among women has increased. As a whole, problem gambling is more common in Finland than elsewhere in Europe.

Monopoly remains

The aim of the Government is to maintain the Finnish gambling system which is based on the monopoly of national operators. The merger of the gambling operators will strengthen this monopoly.

When the operators are merged, they no longer compete with each other by providing similar products. Overlapping games will be eliminated. In other words, there will no longer occur a situation where three different operators provide similar games.

Revenue still to be used for non-profit purposes

The revenue of the gambling operators continues to be used for non-profit purposes. The merger of the operators does not affect the status of the beneficiaries. 53 per cent of the revenue of the new operator will be allocated to the current beneficiaries of Veikkaus, 43 per cent to the beneficiaries of RAY and 4 per cent to the beneficiaries of Fintoto.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will begin to apply the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers. The Act's provisions on certain procedures will, however, be specified by Government decrees.
 
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will request statements on the merger proposal in March. The intention is to submit the proposal to the Parliament during the autumn session 2016.

Inquiries

Raimo Ikonen, Director-General, tel. +358 2951 63517
Lassi Kauttonen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63577
Antti Murto, Specialist, tel. +358 2951 63221