The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to issue formal comments against proposed changes to the Finnish Lotteries Act.
The EGBA stated that the changes, if implemented, would exacerbate the breach of European Union law in Finland, which is already the subject of an infringement procedure.
The European Commission objected to existing Finnish gaming legislation in March of 2007 when it issued a Reasoned Opinion, which is the last procedural stage before a referral to the European Court of Justice. The latest draft provisions in the Scandinavian nation would introduce further restrictions on indirect marketing of gambling services for operators without a Finnish license along with fines and prison sentences of up to two years for media and online gaming companies that operate or market such activities.
“These additional restrictions are, however, not aimed at enhancing consumer protection in a consistent and systematic manner as they will not apply to the Finnish government’s own gambling activities, which will still be allowed to conduct extensive and aggressive marketing campaigns,” read a statement from the EGBA.
The Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY) has announced its intention to launch an online poker site later this year, which the EGBA believes would be protected by any new legislation to the extent of turning it into a virtual monopoly.
“This shows all too clearly that the Finnish authorities have for the past two years, during which the Commission has been delaying Finland’s referral to the European Court of Justice, enhanced their protectionist legislation rather than removed it,” said Sigrid Ligne, Secretary General for the EGBA.
“The rights of European Union-licensed gaming and betting operators as well as those of Finnish newspapers and media have been ignored for too long and the situation is only deteriorating. The Commission’s patience has clearly not paid off. We now call on the Guardian of the Treaty to defend our rights and to bring Finland to the European Court of Justice.”