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Finland Gambling

Finnish Betting Opportunities

By Reno Rollins

Gambling is slowly growing in popularity within Finland. As of this writing, the following gambling opportunities are available:

- 2 casinos
- 43 racetracks
- Over 4,000 game retail outlets
- 55 gaming arcades
- 287 restaurants with casino table games
- 18,000 slot machines

Gambling Laws in Finland

In Finland, all gambling and lottery services are used to generate money for non-profit organizations. Private companies aren’t allowed to conduct lotteries, and this also extends to casinos and slot machines. Running a game in which the player can win money is only allowed if one has a license from the government.

Gambling in the country of Finland is organized as a national monopoly, and the market is divided up among three governing bodies. The first is RAY, which operates and oversees casino games, slot machines and table games. The revenue which RAY receives is funneled into social and health care organizations.

The Finnish National Lottery is presided over by Veikkaus Oy. This group makes sure that any proceeds from the lottery are placed into programs to benefit culture, arts, science, youth work and sports.

Horse racing (or pari-mutual wagering) falls under the jurisdiction of Fintoto Oy. All revenue gained is put back into horse breeding, horse sports and trotting.

There is also the Alands Penningautomatforening (PAF), which governs gaming operations in the province of Aland. They may also run operations on ferries and over the Internet. Within their jurisdiction, the PAF oversees gaming machines, bingo, casinos games, lottery, poker, sports betting, amusements, skill games and tote activities. All profits are used for the public welfare, such as culture, the social sector and to support sports.

There have been disputes in the past between PAF and Finnish authorities due to the Aland-based group offering Internet gambling to the Finnish mainland and infringing on the lottery monopoly held there by RAY.

Legal Gambling Age in Finland

Finland has two different age requirements for gambling. RAY, The Slot Machine Association, requires customers to be at least 18 to play in casinos and gaming arcades. For slot machines located elsewhere, the age requirement is 15.

For games which fall under the jurisdiction of Veikkaus Oy, the legal age is 15 in order to play at retail outlets and 18 to play over the Internet.

In recent times, there has been a growing movement within The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to increase the overall minimum gambling age to 18.

Finnish Gambling Statistics

A recent survey showed that 87% of Finns have gambled at some point in their life. 73% have gambled in the past year. 41% gamble at least once per week, and one in ten gambles multiple times per week.

The most popular forms of gambling among Finns are the lottery, scratch cards and slot machines. Online gambling trails in popularity, but it has grown significantly in the last few years. In 2006, around 125,000 Finns played online poker. Men account for four-fifths of Finnish gaming customers. The average Finn spends 13 Euros per week on gambling.

Casinos in Finland

Since casinos appeared in Finland, games such as Hazard, Craps, Baccarat and Chuck-a-Luck have been offered. Roulette first appeared in the Aland Islands in 1964 and arrived in mainland Finland in 1969. Blackjack appeared in Helsinki in 1982. Casino RAY, Finland’s first casino, was opened in Helsinki in 1991.

At the moment, only two casinos exist in the country of Finland. They are:

- Grand Casino Helsinki (Mikonkatu 19, Helsinki) Gaming in this casino is spread over three floors, and a restaurant, café and snack bar are also available. Live shows are performed in the restaurant. The minimum age is 18 years. The casino is open from noon until 4am daily.

Games available include: 300 slot and video machines, Touchbet Roulette, Electric Derby Horse Racing, Red Dog, Blackjack, American Roulette, Oasis Stud Poker, Sic Bo, Poker and Wheel of Fortune.

- Arkipelag Hotel and Casino (Strandgatan 31, Aland) Minimum age to play is 18. Casino is open from 10pm until 3am daily. Gaming tables are open Monday thru Saturday all year, and on Sundays in July. Other facilities include a bar, nightclub, restaurant, hotel and health club.

Available games include Oasis Stud Poker, Blackjack and American Roulette.

Horse Racing in Finland

Pari-mutual betting is legal in Finland, and a wide array of tracks exist. Facilities offer thoroughbred or harness racing, and a few tracks offer both.

The following tracks offer harness racing exclusively:

- Dalslands Travsallskap Amal (Amal)
- Wermlands Trafvarsallskap (Amotfors)
- Axevalla Traybana (Axvall)
- Bodentravet Racecourse (Boden)
- Bollnas Travet (Bollnas)
- Solvalla Racecourse (Bromma)
- Gavle Travet (Gavle)
- Halmstad Travet (Halmstad)
- Hagmyren Hudiktravet (Hudiksvall)
- Kalmar Travet (Kalmar)
- Farjestads Travsallskap (Karlstad)
- Lapeen Rivirata (Lappeenranta)
- Lindsebergs Travbana (Lindesberg)
- Ostergotlands Travsallskap (Mantorp)
- Orebro Travsallskap (Orebro)
- Ostersunds Travet (Ostersund)
- Umaker Travbana (Roback)
- Bergsakers Travbana (Sundsvall)
- Teivon Ravikeskus (Tampere)
- Jonkoping-Vaggervds Travsallskap (Vaggeryd)

The following tracks offer both harness and thoroughbred racing:

- Nordmarkens Travsallskap (Arjang-Bankgiro)
- Jagersro Trav & Galopp (Arjang-Bankgiro)

Poker in Finland

The poker industry in thriving in Finland. In recent years, they have hosted both the Extreme Poker Challenge and The Small Town Poker Tour. Poker games offered include Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 7 Card Stud, and Soko (Scandinavian version of 5 Card Stud).

Sports Betting in Finland

Like other aspects of gambling in Finland, the state has a monopoly on sports betting. The European Union has asked for a change on this policy, but a resolution has yet to be reached. Leading European sports book, Ladbrokes, for example, has applied for a license to move into the Finnish market, but they were denied permission.

Online Gambling in Finland

Online gaming is allowed (it was launched in 1996), but the Finnish 2002 Act on Gaming states that only one license can be operational at a time. This means that the state-run online gaming operation is the only legal game in town. Svenska Spel Ab and ATG provide games over the Internet.

National Lottery in Finland

To play the Finnish lottery, you must have a local bank account. The instructions are also in Finnish, so play is generally limited to citizens of Finland. Players may deposit money into an account and have their losses withdrawn or winnings added. The Finnish lottery has over 70,000 registered players, and over 40,000 customers regularly play via the Internet.

Bingo in Finland

Only domestic companies can offer bingo in Finland. A license to run a bingo game can obtained from the Finnish police in the district where the game is to be run. Licenses can be issued for up to 2 years at a time.

Slot Machines in Finland

The first slot machines to be used in Finland were imported from Germany in the mid-1920s. They began to make their own machines in 1929. The first Finnish slot machine was known as a Payazzo, which can still be found in pubs and gambling arcades. The first electronic slot was manufactured by RAY in 1980. Slots can be found in casinos, restaurants, supermarkets, pubs and many other locations.

Other gaming machines available in Finland include:

- Dice
- Keno
- Roulette
- 21
- Poker
- Fruit Machines

Provincial Breakdown of Finland

Finland is divided into six administrative provinces. These provinces consist of:
- Aland
- Lapland
- Oulu
- Southern Finland
- Western Finland
- Eastern Finland

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