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Finland Black-Lists Betsson Group’s BML Ltd amidst Legal Battle

In a historic move, Finland has black-listed BML Group Ltd , a subsidiary of the Betsson Group , marking the first instance of such action against a Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licensed company. The decision comes in the wake of BML Group losing a legal battle against the Finnish National Police Council , leading to significant consequences, including the National Bank of Finland ordering a halt to all money transfers to BML.



BML Remains Locked in a Legal Dispute



The dispute between BML Group Ltd and the National Police Council heralds back to May 2023 when the Council imposed a record €2.4 million ($2.6 million) fine for alleged targeting of the Finnish market. The accusations included creating Finnish market content , such as banner advertisements on affiliate websites, blog writings, podcasts, and video podcasts. 



According to the regulator, BML’s move violated Finland’s Lottery Act, where the state-owned Veikkaus is the sole provider of gaming activities. The Administrative Court of Helsinki ruled in June 2023 that Betsson didn’t have to pay the fine until the completion of the appeals process . However, the recent ruling against BML Group Ltd by the Administrative Court of Finland appears to have reignited the legal battle.



Antti Koivula , a prominent Finnish iGaming lawyer, revealed the black-listing news on LinkedIn , shedding light on the gravity of the situation. The court’s decision prompted the National Bank of Finland to direct all financial entities to cease money transfers to BML Group. This measure makes it impossible for the operator to conduct business within the country and could also impact its operations abroad.



The Decision Could Have Wide-Reaching Consequences



In response to the developments, Betsson reaffirmed its intention to appeal the case to the Supreme Administrative Court in Finland. The company emphasized BML Group’s full cooperation with the National Police Board and compliance with the prohibition order , disputing the reasoning behind the fine. However, the new payment blocks pose a significant obstacle to BML as it continues its legal battle.



This development highlights Finland’s ongoing regulatory troubles as the state-owned monopoly struggles to compete with an influx of black market operators , which command a roughly 50% market share. The country is considering introducing a licensing system , decentralizing the market, and channeling more players towards regulated offerings.



BML Group’s black-listing could significantly impact the company and the Finnish iGaming industry. Proceeding with decentralization requires cooperating with international operators, and the regulator’s punitive action may disincentivize companies from entering the market. Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court will have the final word regarding this matter, setting the tone for the country’s gaming policy.

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