Betsson’s Finnish payment block lifted

Lea Hogg 2 weeks ago
Betsson’s Finnish payment block lifted

Betsson’s payment blocking order in Finland has been put on hold. The intervention came from the country’s Supreme Administrative Court, leading to the suspension of the order.

Earlier this year, Betsson’s holding company, BML Group, was added to the National Police Board (NPB) of Finland’s payment blocking list, requiring all banks, payment providers, and crypto businesses to block all payments from Finland to these blacklisted businesses. This action followed a ruling by the Helsinki Administrative Court in February, which upheld a fine of €2.4 million imposed by Finnish police on Betsson for marketing violations in May 2023.

BML Group was found to have violated the Finnish Lotteries Act by extensively advertising in mainland Finland across various channels, contravening the Act’s stipulation that only Veikkaus, the country’s gambling monopoly, is permitted to market its gambling services to Finnish consumers. Despite multiple opportunities to adjust its activities to comply with Finnish gambling regulations, Betsson continued to target its advertising towards mainland Finland.

The prohibition order targeted materials on the group’s websites that directly or indirectly promoted the sales of gambling services in mainland Finland, including marketing communications aimed at consumers in mainland Finland, the use of Finnish celebrities in marketing campaigns, and the publication of podcasts, videos, and articles promoting Betsson’s offerings. The prohibition extended to affiliate marketing, requiring Betsson to refrain from publishing new promotional materials targeting mainland Finland on its websites, remove all previously published marketing materials, and abstain from marketing on other websites in the future. Despite these measures, Betsson’s marketing violations led to a conditional fine of €2.4 million.

Betsson, however, did not accept the verdict and announced its plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Administrative Court. This court is the highest appellate authority for administrative law in Finland, similar to the Supreme Court’s role in civil and criminal law.

Supreme Court steps in

According to sources, the Supreme Administrative Court has now issued a provisional judgement. This suspends the NPB order until the completion of the appeal process. Consequently, Betsson is not obligated to pay the fine until the court makes a decision on BML Group’s appeal or issues a different ruling.

Although the judgement did not specifically refer to the NPB’s payment blocking list, the company’s attorneys argued that any Betsson-related names should be removed from the list. The NPB’s publicly accessible blocking list, updated on April 2, confirms that all names associated with Betsson have been removed.

This development marks another twist in Betsson’s almost year-long legal battle in the Nordic country. Last month, the operator transferred its European Union brands, excluding those in Sweden and Ireland, to a new holding company, Rizk Nordic Limited.

A legal commentator suggested that this move could have been made to help the business evade the blocking order, a claim that Betsson refuted. A Betsson spokesperson stated that BML Group Ltd is fully compliant with the NPB’s prohibition order and does not target Finland with its customer offerings.

Looking ahead, Finland plans to revamp its gambling monopoly system. The government has announced its intention to introduce a licensing model by 2026.

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