Possible Finnish bill will hinder online poker

Online poker may become a thing of the past for Finns if the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has anything to say about it for the Scandinavian country.

Helsingin Sonomat reported today it had information that the ministry is planning to introduce an amendment to the law on gambling that could give Internet gamblers the ability to claim back their losses.

Any one of the firm providing the online poker services, a credit card company or the winning player in the game could end up having to pay back the losing player in the ministry's plan.

According to the ministry, in practice this would mean the foreign companies running the Internet poker services would probably just stop allowing Finnish players from playing on their sites. The risk of having to reimburse Finnish players would be too great.

The latest attempt by a European nation to stem the online gambling tide comes as a result of a study the ministry commissioned from the University of Joensuu to look into ways to protect gambling addicts and children from the dangers of online gambling.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health collaborated with law and economics professor Kalle Maatta to come up with the suggested change in the law.

According to the Helsingin Sonomat, Maatta said the idea of the law is not to force citizens to put shackles on their gambling, but merely to provide them with the opportunity to claim back the losses they incur, for example, playing online poker while drunk.

The University of Joensuu report doesn't specify how the legislation would be enforced. The ministry indicated to the Finnish paper that because of the difficulties such a law would involve, it is waiting to hear comments on the idea.

While Finland is eyeing an online gambling ban, Germany already has one in place. However, the country is facing challenges to the ban both from the European Union and from internal sources.

According to Forbes, Bwin, which operates PokerRoom.com, won another court battle in Germany to be able to continue to provide gambling services in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The Karlsruhe, Germany-based court ruled that a previous judgment forcing Bwin to stop accepting wagers from customers in that region should not be executed as such a regionally limited ban is technically not enforceable.

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