|According to a report by NewsRoom Finland, Stefan Willin, the Minister for Culture and Sport, has called on his Government to run an online poker service in order to encourage players away from foreign sites.|
The news service reported Willin stated that he would be happy if the nation’s slot machine association, Raha-Automaattiyhdistys (RAY), or lottery and betting monopoly, Veikkaus Oy, assumed the responsibility for regulating online poker with the resulting revenue increase spent to fund public services and fight gambling addictions.
'It is difficult to halt the rise in the popularity of online poker,” said Willin.
“It would be better to offer players a legal and responsible alternative. Responsibility would mean setting an 18 age limit and requiring players to identify themselves.'
NewsRoom Finland reported that the Minister would use neighbouring Sweden’s state monopoly as a model and emphasised that Svenska Spel, the state-owned lottery and gaming group, was authorised to provide poker services over the Internet with the initiative proving successful.
The Minister’s statements come after last week’s revelation that the Scandinavian nation was considering an online gambling ban after studying a proposal from a university working group commissioned by Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The proposal would strengthen the nation’s Lotteries Act to combat underage gambling and require online games to be equipped with identification devices.
Evocative gambling advertisements were also suggested as targets for state restriction together with an innovative suggestion that losing players be able to reclaim their deposits in ‘illegal’ gambling cases.
Finns rank fourth in the world per capita for gambling expenditure with little restrictions currently on engaging in online gambling.