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Labrokes Aims for Finnish License

16 December 2003

FINLAND – As reported by the These days you can bet on just about anything: who's going to win next year's Eurovision Song Contest, who will be the next U.S. President, or who'll score first when Helsinki Jokerit meet Espoo Blues in the Finnish Ice Hockey League?

"And now the British bookmaking firm of Ladbrokes will even accept your bets on when the company is going to secure its own gaming licence in Finland.

"…`One of these days Ladbrokes will be running betting operations in Finland and elsewhere in Scandinavia. Of that you can be sure', says Douglas Roos, the MD of the company's Nordic operations.

"…In Finland, betting and gaming activities are regulated by the 2002 Act on Gaming.

"The only operating licences have been granted to Veikkaus, Fintoto, and Raha-automaattiyhdistys (RAY). This trio carry on lottery and instant lottery business and fixed and variable odds betting (Veikkaus), off-track odds betting on harness racing (Fintoto), and slot machines and casino games (RAY). Between them they had an aggregate turnover of something like EUR 1,800 million last year.

"The Act on Gaming requires that the proceeds of these state-owned companies' operations after expenses should be ploughed back into Finnish society, in the form of grants to Finnish sports, science, culture, and welfare.

"…The stand-off between the two parties reached a point last week where Ladbrokes filed a complaint to the European Commission about Finnish intransigence. The company claims the Finnish gaming system is in contravention of EU competition rules, since it prevents the free movement of services. At the same time, Ladbrokes has appealed to the Finnish Council of State for a permit to arrange its own gaming operations in the country. This might also involve establishing high street outlets, betting shops…"

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