BML Group Temporarily Suspended from Paying €2.4 Million Fine in Finland

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Betsson's subsidiary, BML Group Ltd, has obtained a temporary reprieve from the significant €2.4 million fine imposed on it in Finland.

The Helsinki Administrative Court ruled in favor of suspending the fine while the appeals process is underway, following BML Group's appeal against the conditional fine issued by the National Police Board (NPB).

The initial fine was imposed on April 7 due to the company's marketing of gambling services in Finland. The NPB outlined several measures that BML Group was required to undertake to comply with the prohibition, including refraining from publishing new sales promotions targeting mainland Finland on its gambling websites. They also had to remove previously published sales promotion material, and abstaining from future marketing on other websites.

The court's interim decision does not reveal its final reasoning or the ultimate outcome of the ruling. However, it is considered a reasonable measure to protect the appellant's rights during the ongoing court process. The interim decision states that the NPB's prohibition decision will not take effect while BML Group Ltd's appeal is being processed or until the court issues a further decision.

The Finnish regulator has recently taken more aggressive actions, empowered by new authorities granted to it since January 1 of this year, including increased power to block payments. This stricter approach contrasts with potential legal reforms in Finland that aim to dismantle Veikkaus' monopoly on online gambling in favor of a licensing system.

Minna Ripatti, founding partner at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law, commented on the implications of the court's decision, particularly regarding the police board's efforts to block payment service providers (PSPs).

Considering cases like the one involving Betsson is important. Finland is currently contemplating the introduction of a licensing system for the first time, and the potential inclusion of a cooling-off period is still under discussion within the overall licensing framework. If implemented, this provision may affect companies that have been prohibited or are facing pending court cases, especially considering the proximity to the introduction of new regulations.

Minna RipattiPartner at Legal Gaming Attorneys at Law

At the time of publication, Betsson had not provided a comment on the matter.

While there is widespread political support for dismantling the gambling monopoly, including from the winner of the recent general election and Veikkaus itself, some government departments are advocating for its retention.

On June 5, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health released a report favoring the continuation of the monopoly but with improvements. The minister cited the example of Norway's monopoly and a study conducted by the University of Bergen, which found a 50% decrease in gambling problems in Norway since 2019.

The administrative court's decision, in this case, could take anywhere from six to 18 months. If the case reaches the Supreme Administrative Court, as predicted by Minna Ripatti, the process could take even longer.

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