World Championships – National Police Board expects illegal gambling marketing

Publication date 3.5.2022 15.37
News item
Marketing leaflets are being placed under windshield wipers of a parked car
Illegal marketing can take many forms including distribution of leaflets at or near sports events

Certain foreign gambling operators seek to benefit from international sports events in Finland. Through its activities, the National Police Board aims to prevent illegal marketing of gambling services at the Ice Hockey World Championships. This year’s World Championships will be held in Tampere and Helsinki from 13 to 29 May 2022.

During major events, foreign gambling operators often seek to approach different parties for marketing purposes and to buy advertising space in different channels. Gambling operators may also distribute free marketing material at events and in their surroundings to increase their visibility. In this case, marketing is targeted at the events’ audience who make up the most potential customers for gambling operators. At international events, in particular, foreign gambling operators often have a visible presence. 

The National Police Board has sent a letter to dozens of parties participating in the event regarding gambling service marketing. Through its activities, the National Police Board aims to prevent illegal gambling service marketing at the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championships and to increase the awareness of the event organisers and consumers of the illegal nature of such marketing. However, effective prevention of illegal activities also calls for action from those participating in the event. Participants have been instructed to ensure, for example, that no marketing space is given to foreign gambling operators and that their marketing material is not otherwise distributed in any event areas. 

Gambling service marketing in violation of the Finnish Lotteries Act has been detected at different previous events. Marketing has been carried out by distributing free products carrying a gambling operator’s logo, by launching social media campaigns and by taping cars with advertisements. 

- The marketing of gambling services is the most visible online but, especially during major events, gambling operators also seek visibility through other marketing methods. For example, there has been a case where a lorry with a built-in sauna was visibly taped with a gambling operator’s logos. When it comes to marketing, the only limit is the marketer’s imagination” says senior adviser Juhani Ala-Kurikka of the National Police Board's Gambling Administration. 

Even though marketing activities have been very striking from time to time, the gambling services marketed by foreign gambling operators have been classified as services causing a specific gambling harm. In Finland, the consumption of gambling services is high on an international scale. 

- Gambling causes significant financial, social and health-related harm. 
This is why the National Police Board is ready to tackle illegal gambling service marketing during the Ice Hockey World Championships, senior adviser Ala-Kurikka comments.

In Finland, only Veikkaus Oy can market gambling services with the limitations set out in the Finnish Lotteries Act. No other operator can market gambling services when they are targeted at Finland and consumers living in Finland. Marketing carried out at events held in Finland is particularly clearly targeted at Finnish consumers. 

Marketing means all types of commercial activities that seek to increase demand for gambling services or the visibility of a gambling operator. The concept of marketing is fairly broad, including individual advertising posters and products carrying a gambling operator’s logo. The National Police Board may prohibit illegal gambling and impose a conditional fine to enforce the prohibition. Since the beginning of 2022, the National Police Board can also issue a proposal to the Market Court for imposing a penalty fee for any marketing activities in violation of the Finnish Lotteries Act. 

Any findings of marketing by foreign gambling operators at the Ice Hockey World Championships can be sent to the National Police Board’s Gambling Administration: 

National Police Board News Supervision of gambling