Betsson’s BML Group fined $2.6 million, faces marketing prohibition in Finland

BML Group, a subsidiary of Betsson AB, has become the first Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licensee to be fined by the Finnish police. The Finnish National Police Board has imposed a record-high fine of €2.4 million ($2.6 million) and issued a prohibition order against BML Group’s marketing activities. 

The police board stated that BML Group had engaged in extensive advertising targeting mainland Finland through multiple channels for an “extensive” period of time. The board’s decision, made on April 7, will come into effect on July 3.

The Finnish gambling market is currently monopolized by Veikkaus, the state-owned betting, gaming, and lottery company. BML Group, operating under the MGA license, has been accused of promoting gambling products in Finland, in direct violation of the Finnish Lotteries Act.

The National Police Board’s prohibition order and conditional fine mark a significant milestone, with Antti Koivula, Partner and Legal Advisor at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, noting that it is the first time such action has been taken against an MGA licensed operator.

“The National Police Board estimated that BML has a significant financial interest in continuing the activities and found that the illegal activities have continued for a long time regardless of the Board’s previous control measures,” the Board said in a statement.

However, the board acknowledged the efforts made by the Betsson subsidiary to reduce marketing activity, which acted as a mitigating factor when determining the size of the penalty. Still, the fine marks a record, up from a previous high of €800,000.

As per the order, BML Group must refrain from targeting customers on Finnish mainland, including the use of podcasts, video podcasts, articles, or campaigns featuring Finnish celebrities that attract customers. The marketing prohibition also extends to BML Group’s activities on websites other than those owned and administered by the group.

“If BML continues to target its marketing of gambling services in mainland Finland despite the prohibition, the Board will take action to enforce the imposed conditional fine,” the Board added.

While it remains unclear if this enforcement action concludes an investigation announced by the National Police Board in April 2023, it highlights the authority’s commitment to cracking down on what it has labeled as aggressive marketing practices.

While the Finnish Lotteries Act currently prohibits unlicensed firms from marketing their services to the country’s mainland, lawmakers have been evaluating for some time now potential reforms to the monopoly system. An update could introduce a partial-license model allowing privately held companies, like Betsson, to offer online betting and casino products.