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Rahapelitoiminta ja EU EN

Gambling and the EU

Member states of the European Union can impose national restrictions on the provision of gambling services. As a member state, Finland is free to make decisions on its gambling system and set the objectives for it. However, any restrictions on the provision of gambling services must comply with EU law.

The preliminary rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union have become the most important legal guidelines in the gambling sector. According to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, restrictions on the freedom to provide services, on the right of establishment or on the free movement of goods may be justified in the gambling sector.

Restrictions are justified if they are:

  • based on imperative requirements in the public interest, such as consumer protection and the prevention of both fraud and problem gambling
  • suitable for achieving the objectives of the gambling system
  • proportionate to the objective pursued
  • applied without discrimination.

According to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, national authorities are also expected to effectively supervise the expansion of gambling activities. In practice, this means supervision of both the scope of advertising by the holder of the monopoly and any new games it brings to the market.

In 2006, the European Commission instigated an infringement procedure against Finland. However, in 2013 the Commission stated that Finnish legislation, which establishes exclusive rights for the offering of gambling services, complies with EU law and is applied in a consistent and systematic manner.

Rahapelialalla ei ole EU-lisenssejä -infolaatikko EN

No EU-wide gambling licences

The gambling market of the European Union has not been harmonised. This means that gambling operators need to apply for a licence in all the countries in which they want to offer their gambling services either at physical points of sale or over the internet. 

Gambling operators may not legally offer their gambling services in any country in which they do not hold a licence according to the laws of that country.

According to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the principle of mutual recognition does not apply to the gambling market in the EU. This means that a gambling licence granted in one EU member state does not give the licence holder a right to operate in other EU member states. For this reason, companies that offer gambling services in several EU member states need to comply with the laws of each country.