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Betsson has become the first MGA-licensed online gambling operator to be blacklisted by Finland’s National Police Board (NPB).

This was confirmed when Betsson parent company BML Group became the first gaming business to appear on the NPB’s publicly available blacklist.

Betsson Group’s 14 owned brands, including Betsson, Star Casino and Betsafe, are also specifically listed.

Presence on the list means that all banks, payment service providers and crypto currency businesses are required to block payments from Finland to the blacklisted businesses.

Providers that fail to comply with this order face government penalties and sanctions.  

The news follows Betsson reportedly losing a case in Finnish court on 19 February against the NPB.

Betsson had appealed the NPB decision to impose a record €2.4m fine in May 2023 for targeting the Finnish market.

The company was accused creating Finnish market content including banner advertisements on affiliate websites, and blog writings, podcasts and video podcasts

According to the police, Betsson advertised extensively in Finland, thereby violating the country’s Lottery Act, in which state-owned Veikkaus has a monopoly on gaming activities.  

The operator received a temporary reprieve from the fine in June 2023 when the Helinski Administrative Court ruled that it did not have to pay until Betsson had exhausted the appeals process.

Finland commits to licensing model by 2026

The NPB’s blacklist for gaming firms was announced in December 2022 as part of an enforcement effort to protect the market.

Finland’s monopoly model is generally considered to have failed in its channelisation goals.

Approximately 50% of traffic heads to offshore operators, according to a 2023 government report.

In 2023, the government released a study that recommended either the introduction of an international licensing model or dialled up enforcement efforts to improve channelisation.

Following April elections, which resulted in a Social Democratic Party-led coalition, the new government released a policy programme that committed to the introduction a licensing model by 2026.

Betsson’s presence on the NPB’s blacklist may complicate the operator’s efforts to receive a licence after the new regulations enter into force.

“It is interesting to see if BML will apply for leave to appeal from the Supreme Administrative Court, and if it is granted, how this will potentially influence BML’s chances of getting a license from Finland once the market opens in a few years,” Finnish regulatory expert Antti Koivula told NEXT.io.

“The appeal process in the Supreme Administrative Court might take a few years, and it certainly would not be a healthy starting point for a licensing application to have a fresh Supreme Administrative Court decision stating that you’ve breached the law for an extended period of time. “

Betsson to appeal case to Supreme Court

In comments made to NEXT.io, a Betsson spokesperson criticised the court’s ruling, and stated the company indeed intended to appeal the case to the Supreme Administrative Court.

“It is crucial to emphasise that BML Group is fully cooperating with the National Police Board (NPB). Equally crucial is that BML Group is fully compliant with the prohibition order issued by the NPB and does not have an offering that is targeting Finland,” the spokesperson said.

“As far as our understanding goes, there should be no fine payable by BML Group in Finland due to our compliance with the prohibition order.

“BML Group intends to appeal the ruling by the Administrative Court of Finland to the Supreme Court in Finland.”

The spokesperson also praised the Finnish government’s commitment to introduce a licensing system.

“We believe that this has the potential to enhance player protection and promote market efficiency by introducing fair competition among operators,” they said.

“Such changes will improve the overall player experience and better align with player demands and preferences in the Finnish market.”

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