Article written by Antti Koivula, consulting legal advisor at Legal Gaming
On May 24, 2022 the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court delivered its judgment on IS-Liigapörssi-case (KHO:2022:60), in which the Supreme Administrative Court analysed whether skill-based fantasy sports games are within the scope of the Finnish Lotteries Act (1047/2001) (“Lotteries Act”) and thus belong to the state-owned gambling operator Veikkaus Oy’s (“Veikkaus”) monopoly.
Finland has a statutory gambling monopoly in place, under which Veikkaus has exclusive rights to operate and market gambling. According to the Lotteries Act, all games which include a participation fee, prizes of monetary value and the result is based on chance, are within Veikkaus monopoly. The main question in the case was if it is enough the game to be even remotely based on chance to be within the scope of the Lotteries Act and thus belong to Veikkaus monopoly, and if that was the case, whether the element of chance was present in the skill-based fantasy sports games in question.
IS-Liigapörssi-case concerned popular fantasy sports games in Finland, in which participants form virtual ice hockey teams from real ice hockey players and points were awarded based on the ice hockey players performance on real ice hockey matches. The fantasy sports games included entry fees and prizes and they had been run since 1995 by a Finnish media giant Sanoma Media Finland Oy (“Sanoma”). It was an undeniable fact that skilled and analytical participants who invested a considerable amount of time to the fantasy sports games outperformed participants who picked the players randomly.
The background of the case is lengthy, as the national authorities had tried to shut down the fantasy sports games run by Sanoma for more than a decade. In 2008 the Ministry of the Interior made a request for investigation for the police, which carried out a preliminary investigation. However, in 2010 the National Prosecution Authority (“NPA”) made a non-prosecution decision stating that it was left unresolved whether the Fantasy Sports games in question are within the scope of the Lotteries Act.
In 2017 the gambling enforcement authority, the National Police Board (“NPB”) started administrative proceedings against Sanoma regarding the fantasy sports games and two years later in 2019 the process had reached the point in which the NPB imposed a prohibition order and a conditional fine of EUR 300,000 for Sanoma on the basis that Sanoma was not allowed to run the fantasy sports games as they qualified as gambling. Sanoma appealed to the Helsinki Administrative Court arguing that the fantasy sports games in question were skill-games with which chance had no effect on the results and thus outside the scope of the Lotteries Act, but in 2021 the Helsinki Administrative Court ruled in favour of the NPB. Sanoma appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court acknowledged that participants knowledge and skills were meaningful in the context of success, but reminded that at the same time random factors outside the participant’s control had a significant importance too. Thus, the chance of winning was at least partially based on luck. As the fantasy sports games also included entry fees and prize money, only Veikkaus was allowed to run them in Finland.
The Supreme Administrative Court’s decision hardly came as a surprise. The Lotteries Act’s definition of gambling is extremely broad, from which a good example is that even an ice fishing competition and an auction were previously deemed to fall within it. Nevertheless, the decision yet further strengthened the NPB’s authority and it remains to be seen what is the next competition or event after which they’ll go next.
GGPoker Obtains German Gambling License
Online poker provider GGPoker, operated by NSUS Malta Ltd, received permission to host online poker on November 25th, 2022 from the State Administration Office of Saxony-Anhalt. As with all providers, the permit is initially limited to five years.
Active in the global Poker and iGaming market since 2017, GGPoker has become the world’s largest poker room thanks to its innovative approach to poker. As an official sponsor of the WSOP Las Vegas, GGPoker is the direct link to the world stage of poker.
NSUS Germany, Sven Stiel on licensing:
“We are delighted to have gone the long and constructive path with the German authorities. We are now able to offer our high-quality, innovative and secure poker environment officially and legally backed. This is the decisive step towards modern iGaming in Germany under professional and customer-oriented conditions.”
The annual VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards recognise the best in the industry
Yesterday VIXIO GamblingCompliance announced the winners of its Global Regulatory Awards (GRAs). We were delighted to host more than 350 guests at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. The prestigious GRAs recognise and reward individuals and teams who work tirelessly to set new standards in compliance and responsibility within the gambling industry.
Comedian Hugh Dennis was the night’s host and helped present the 20 categories, along withspecial guests. Highlights from the night include wins by Christine Gallo at GLI, David Webb from BetConstruct and Beth Jones at Genting Casinos, all of whom walked away with one of our special individual awards. Meanwhile, Flutter Entertainment had a night to remember, receiving three Global Regulatory Awards including Compliance Team of the Year. We concluded the ceremony with our annual Compliance Lifetime Achievement Special Award, which was awarded to Paul Burns, the CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association.
The full list of 2022 award winners can be found here.
Since its launch in 2017, the independently adjudicated GRAs has become the biggest of its kind, and continues to grow as the industry moves towards a stronger culture of compliance.
VIXIO would like to thank this year’s awards sponsors: Bally’s Interactive, BetConstruct, Docaposte, DraftKings, Fortuna Entertainment Group, GiG Comply, Playtech and San Manuel Tribal Gaming Commission, as well as our charity partner YGAM. Without the continued support from our sponsors and partners, the Global Regulatory Awards would not have been the success that it continues to be.
Mike Woolfrey, CEO of VIXIO, said: “Congratulations to all our winners. This year the standard was exceptionally high, so winning an award really is a clear demonstration of a dedication towards regulatory compliance and safer gambling. VIXIO is proud to provide a platform to showcase the great work going on within the industry. We were delighted to see that guests from across the globe joined us last night, a true testament to the industry’s recovery following the pandemic.”
Georgian Govt to Introduce Permit Requirement for Specific Online Gambling Operations
Online gambling businesses – including online casinos, slot machines and betting – will be subject to mandatory permits for specific types of operation, following the Georgian government’s reveal of amendments to the relevant law on Monday.
According to the bill, online casino permits will be issued only to casino holders, with online slot machine permits likewise granted only to slot machine holders and betting permits issued only for holders of betting businesses.
The amendments seek to replace the current regulations that allow online gambling businesses to add different types of operations without acquiring additional permits.
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