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Finland minister favors state-run online poker
Another Finnish minister is looking at limiting online poker in the country, but his idea is to create a national online poker site rather than a new law that would see losing players get money back.
Last week, Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs and Health told media it is planning to introduce an amendment to the law on gambling that could give Internet gamblers the ability to claim back their losses.
The change could result in online poker sites not allowing Finnish players because of the risk of having to return money to the players.
Now Minister of Culture and Sports Stefan Wallin has come out in favor of introducing national online poker for Finland.
In a YLE News article, Wallin said the present system in Finland isn't enough because gambling problems are on the increase, and the winnings of existing gaming Web sites are flowing to companies operating from foreign tax havens.
Instead, Wallin would prefer to see either of the two Finnish gambling companies, Veikkaus or the Finnish Slot Machine Association, take responsibility for organizing online gaming in the nation. The profits could then be channeled to benefit the country, and a national system could exclude underage players.
According to the YLE, officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have taken a negative view of Wallin's idea.
Kari Paasio, a high-ranking official at the ministry, said state-run online poker shouldn't be considered until a committee exploring amendments to the law on lotteries has a chance to submit its proposals. The committee plans to lobby to raise the age limit for legal gambling and also to implement measures to block Finnish access to foreign online poker sites.
Both sides have pointed to Sweden's state-run online gambling in their arguments. Wallin points out that Sweden had success with setting up a state-run gambling site with Svenska Spel, but Paasio points out that problem gambling wasn't reduced by that move in Sweden.
Perhaps both sides should be looking at the heat Sweden has been taking from the European Union as a result of its limited online gambling policy.
The EU has been working to get its member states to open up their borders to online gambling. It has already determined that online gambling services are covered by the trade agreements set up when the EU was formed.
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