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The Lotteries of Finland

Published on: 31/10/2013

Scandinavian laws regarding gambling differ in many ways from European ones. Much of European gambling legislation came out of Venice, which in the 17th century was leading the whole of central Europe with it’s fine casinos and well regulated gaming laws. Neighbouring countries took the lead from Italy, with Spain and France – and later England and Germany – adopting similar practices to those formed in Venice.

The gambling laws of Scandinavia largely developed independently form Europe, and in many countries of the region the legislations were not formally codified until fairly recently. It wasn’t until 1966 that the statutes comprising gambling practices in Finland were made. The lottery act 491:65 covers all forms of chanced based gaming, such as slot machines, lotteries, scratch cards, and any type of casino games.

The government of Finland realized early on that there was no reason to close its doors to a constant stream of revenue lotteries would produce. The population were certainly keen to play them, and the legislators were wise enough to know that banning such practices would merely drive them underground, where they would be operated by criminals, who would collect funds that could otherwise be put to good use.

The Government of Finland licensed numerous monopolies to manage and regulate lotteries throughout the country. The most prominent of these is Oy Veikkaus Ab, which controls the Finnish National Lottery. This is a traditional lottery, with a 7/39 format. This lottery was an immediate hit with the public. Many European commentators have credited its good management – citing especially that fact that it has a minimum jackpot of €700,000. This is a rolling over jackpot, so if the prize is not clamed after only a few weeks the total can be a stupendous amount!

The legal minimum age to participate in the lottery in Finland is 18, but an interesting stipulation for participation is that players must have a local Veikkaus bank account. In many ways this is extremely convenient, as tickets can be purchased easily by account holders, and also any winnings will be deposited directly into your account. In accordance with the 1966 lottery act, Veikkaus are also permitted to sell scratchcards. These are distributed through a network of about three thousand licensed vendors.

Such is the success and popularity of Veikkaus lottery games that they generate an annual revenue of about €1.4 million. These proceeds go directly to the accounts of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. From there monies are distributed to education, sports, the arts, and other philanthropic areas.

The 1966 gambling act was obviously very effective, but it wasn’t particularly encompassing in regards to online gambling. It wasn’t until 2002 that the country formed a monopoly to deal with this other side of the gambling world. The legalisation stated that only a single license for Internet gambling was permitted to be in operation at once. The chosen controller for this was Rahaautomaattiyhdistys, a competitor of Veikkaus.

Finland is known as the country of the lakes, but it could be just as accurately termed the country of the islands. It’s province Åland, situated in the eastern Baltic Sea, consists of 6500 islands. This province has a large degree of independence, and its gambling regulations are controlled by Ålands Penningautomatförening – conveniently shortened to PAF. This company has the legal right to construct online casinos, which are actually preferred by many mainland Fins to those made by Rahaautomaattiyhdistys. There have been numerous clashes and legal altercations between the PAF and mainland Finnish companies over the years.

Veikkaus has not restricted its activities to Finland: ever since the early 1990’s the company has joined forces with nearby lottery companies. Lotteries in Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden have all benefitted from its assistance and financial support. By 1993 there has been a multi national lottery in Scandanavia, known colloquially as “Viking Lotto Finland.”

Published on: 31/10/2013 © Bet Bind