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Anne Lindner

Island Lottery Allowed to Offer I-Gaming Services to Finns

1 May 2003

A Finnish Court of Appeals recently ruled that the Aland Islands online gaming Alands Penningautomatforening, or PAF, operation could continue to offer its services to Finnish customers.

The ruling under appeal was made in the District Court of Aland. The matter at stake was whether PAF and its staff had committed a lottery offense by providing PAF's online gambling services and marketing those services to Finns, and specifically whether the online offering of games constituted PAF organizing a lottery outside of its licensed jurisdiction.

The Appeals Court ruled that PAF had not committed the lottery offense by either offering online games or marketing those games in Finland. Lars Porko, the PAF director, said that in about two months' time he will know whether the appeals' decision will be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Porko said one of the most important things about the appeals decision is that makes clear where an Internet game take place. The court decided the game takes place where the operator is.

"(The) Internet is only a distribution channel," the court stated. "Possible distance sales of services do not result in the (gaming) activity being considered to be arranged on every separate location where a customer happens to reside.

"In the present case the server is situated in Mariehamn. Also PAF's management and administration are located on Aland. Considering that both the maintaining of the gaming services and the operational decision-making, the activity is practiced on Aland, whereas PAF's gaming activity has to be considered to be arranged on Aland," the court continued.

The court also found that all the charges against PAF's staff would be dismissed and ordered the state to pay for Porko and the rest of the staff's legal fees.

Porko said it felt good to win the appeal.

"Absolutely, because for us it's very important to get a statement of where the game actually is played," he said.

The case had been in motion since September of 2000, when the Finnish police started investigating PAF on grounds of organizing an illegal lottery. The district court ruled on the matter in October 2001. Porko said if the case goes on to the Supreme Court, it could drag on for another two years.

"Hopefully this will be the end, but we'll see what happens," he said.

To read the court decision, click here.

Island Lottery Allowed to Offer I-Gaming Services to Finns is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner