|There has been a mixed response to comments made by Finland’s Minister for Culture and Sport last week calling on his Government to run an online poker service in order to encourage players away from foreign sites.|
Stefan Willin stated that he would be happy if the nation’s slot machine association, the 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.
Willin’s counterpart at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Kari Paaso, dismissed the suggestion stating that domestic games would make it even easier for gaming addicts.
RAY currently holds exclusive rights to slot machine and casino activities in Finland and the group emphasised that it has the technical capacity to facilitate online poker.
'RAY, just like the Government, has set the maintaining of this exclusive right in Finland as an important goal,” said Matti Hokkanen, Communications Director for RAY.
“Our estimate is that, in the present unregulated and fast-moving environment, the start of Internet casino activities would mean a threat of a certain degree to RAY’s monopoly.
'Launching the operation would not be without complications, however, as it would undoubtedly add to some individuals’ gambling problems.”
Veikkaus also stated that it has the technical expertise to set up online poker should the Government and the gaming license holders agree.
“We have plenty of technical and business experience in such matters,” said Ilkka Juva, Communications Director for the lottery and betting monopoly.