Betsson Group entity – BML Group LTD placed on payment block list in Finland

Betsson Group, an MGA-licensed online gambling operator, has recently found itself in a challenging situation. The Finland National Police Board (NPB) has officially blacklisted Betsson Group, making it the first gaming business to appear on the publicly available payment block list. This move has significant implications for Betsson Group and its 14 owned brands, including Betsson, Betsafe, and NordicBet. In this article, we will delve into the details of this payment block and its potential consequences for the operator.

The Payment Block in Finland

The inclusion of Betsson Group on Finland’s payment block list means that all banks, payment service providers, and cryptocurrency businesses are required to block payments from Finland to the blacklisted entities. Failure to comply with this order can result in government penalties and sanctions. This action by the NPB follows a case in Finnish court, where Betsson Group lost its appeal against the NPB’s decision to impose a record €2.4 million fine in May 2023 for targeting the Finnish market.

Violation of the Finnish Lottery Act

The NPB’s decision to blacklist Betsson Group stems from their extensive advertising efforts in Finland, which were deemed to be in violation of the country’s Lottery Act. According to the act, state-owned Veikkaus holds a monopoly on gaming activities in Finland. Betsson Group was accused of creating Finnish market content, including banner advertisements on affiliate websites, blog writings, podcasts, and video podcasts. This violation of the Lottery Act led to the imposition of the substantial fine and, ultimately, the payment block.

Implications for Betsson Group

The payment block in Finland has significant implications for Betsson Group’s operations. With all payments from Finland to the blacklisted businesses being blocked, the operator is likely to experience a substantial decline in revenue from the Finnish market. This loss of revenue could have a significant impact on the financial performance of Betsson Group and its 14 owned brands. Additionally, the presence of Betsson Group on the NPB’s blacklist may complicate the operator’s efforts to obtain a license once the new regulations come into force.

Finland’s Licensing Model

Finland’s current monopoly model for online gambling has been deemed unsuccessful in achieving its channelization goals. Approximately 50% of Finnish players choose to play on offshore gambling websites, according to a government report. As a result, the Finnish government has been considering alternative approaches, including the introduction of an international licensing model or increased enforcement efforts to improve channelization. After the April elections, the new government committed to introducing a licensing model by 2026.

Betsson Group’s Appeal

Betsson Group intends to appeal the ruling by the Administrative Court of Finland to the Supreme Court. A spokesperson for the company emphasized that they are fully cooperating with the NPB and are compliant with the prohibition order issued. They expressed their belief that there should be no fine payable by Betsson Group in Finland due to their compliance with the prohibition order. The spokesperson also praised the Finnish government’s commitment to introducing a licensing system, as it has the potential to enhance player protection and promote fair competition among operators.

The Future of Betsson Group in Finland

The outcome of Betsson Group’s appeal to the Supreme Court will play a crucial role in determining the operator’s future in Finland. If the appeal is successful, it could potentially improve Betsson Group’s chances of obtaining a license once the new regulations are in place. However, if the appeal is unsuccessful, Betsson Group may face further challenges in obtaining a license, as a Supreme Court decision stating a breach of the law could have a significant impact on their application. The situation remains uncertain, and the ultimate outcome will depend on the legal proceedings and the decisions of the Finnish authorities.

The payment block imposed on Betsson Group in Finland has created significant challenges for the operator and its owned brands. With payments from Finland being blocked, Betsson Group is likely to experience a decline in revenue from the Finnish market. The operator’s appeal to the Supreme Court will determine its future in Finland, and the outcome will have far-reaching consequences. As the Finnish government moves towards a licensing model, it remains to be seen how Betsson Group will navigate these regulatory changes. This situation highlights the evolving nature of the online gambling industry and the complex regulatory landscape in different jurisdictions.