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Finland – Compulsory registration of slot games

By - 30 May 2019

Kai Mykkänen, Finland’s Minister of the Interior, explains the government’s stance on a proposal set forth in October 2018, which would see the introduction of a compulsory registration scheme for slots players in the same vein as the identification scheme adopted by Veikkaus for online players.

In order to reduce the negative economic, social and health impacts of gambling, the government is proposing requiring players to identity themselves when they play slot machines found in shops or kiosks, for example. The proposal on this matter was submitted to Parliament on October 25, 2018.

Gambling researchers, gambling addicts and their families and friends are concerned about the problems caused by slot machines played in shops and kiosks. The aim is that in future slot machine players could set gambling restrictions for themselves. With this legislative proposal we will also reduce the administrative burden of voluntary activities, for example by simplifying licence processes for lotteries.

At the moment, players must identify themselves when they play Veikkaus online games. If identification were also required at slot machines, restrictions could be introduced to manage at-risk gambling at physical slot machines too. Under the Lotteries Act, the age limit for all gambling is 18 years.

When players are required to identify themselves, compliance with the age limit can be monitored more effectively at the same time, as identification will in future require players to be Veikkaus customers.

The intention is for the compulsory identification of slot machine players to enter into force at the start of 2022 following a transition period. Slot machines would be equipped with devices enabling identification even before 2022. At this stage, compulsory identification would not apply to slot machines in Veikkaus’ own game arcades. The Ministry of Interior is working together with the National Police Board, problem gambling experts in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, organisations involved in the prevention of problem gambling and Veikkaus Oy to prepare the technical implementation of compulsory identification and restrictions set on accounts.

The previous reform of the Lotteries Act focused on the merger of the gambling operators. The new Veikkaus – a fully state owned Finnish gambling company – started operating at the beginning of 2017. Veikkaus Oy is the only gambling operator in Finland that has the right to run gambling operations. To channel the demand for gambling into national supervised gambling games, the Ministry of the Interior will draw up a preliminary report on the technical measures that can be used, if necessary, to prevent online gambling run by any other operator than Veikkaus in mainland Finland.

At the same time, the Ministry will also explore other ways to support the channelling of the demand for gambling and assess the need to further develop the legislation with a view to providing players with better opportunities to set gambling restrictions on themselves, allowing the use of different payment methods and shortening the time limit for claiming the winnings. This work should be completed by end of March 2019.

Kai Mykkänen, Minister of the Interior, was elected to the Parliament of Finland in the 2015 election with 5,260 votes. He was a member of the Environment Committee and Grand Committee 2015–2016. On 22 June 2016, Mykkänen was appointed as the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development in Sipilä Cabinet after Lenita Toivakka’s resignation. On 6 February 2018, Mr. Mykkänen shifted his portfolio in order to replace Paula Risikko as the Minister of the Interior.

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