Top 10 Finnish Poker Sites 2023 : For Finnish Poker Players
A study in 2015 revealed that more than 80% of Finland’s adult population engages in some form of gambling on a regular basis. Given this percentage, it is safe to assume that poker has more than a few adherents among the general populace.
In this article, we take a look at the poker scene in Finland and examine the possibility of more open legislation in the future.
The present Finnish government monopoly on gambling has actually been in place since the country was a part of Sweden. This monopoly was in place even as the country became a part of the Russian Empire in the years prior to World War II.
Consequently, there really isn’t a Finnish poker scene to speak of since the Internet explosion that took place in the country in the early 2000s.
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The online poker scene underwent a drastic change since then, with Finnish players signing up to poker sites in droves. Quickly garnering a collective reputation as some of the most aggressive and fearless players in the international arena, Finnish players were especially lauded for their capability in No Limit Holdem.
In 2007, the Åland Islands gambling regulatory agency PAF began offering a full range of casino games from its own website. The first gambling operator in Finland, PAF is still responsible for all online gambling that takes place in the Åland Islands.
PAF didn’t always have it so easy. The sole regulatory body for gambling in the mainland, RAY, took objection to what it perceived to be PAF’s infringement on its monopoly. RAY subsequently established its own casino website in 2010 after conceding to PAF’s right to regulate online gambling in the province. Soon after, two other state bodies Fintoto and Veikkaus also began offering online gambling services via their own websites.
Is poker legal in Finland?
Playing poker is legal in Finland, provided you stick to the establishments licensed by RAY on the mainland and by PAF on the Åland Islands.
That being said, options for playing live poker in the country are somewhat limited, with only the two top casinos – Grand Casino Helsinki and Arkipalego – being licensed to host poker matches and tournaments.
Online poker is also legal, again provided the establishment in question is licensed by RAY and PAF as appropriate. Such establishments are the only ones wherein you can play poker online with absolutely no risk of legal consequences. There are many offshore establishments that accept players from Finland of course, but playing in them always involves some degree of risk.
RAY itself has an online poker site catering to the Finnish market. Although fairly small in scope, it is nevertheless suitable for most poker players. The site has been extensively promoted by Finnish poker pro Juha Helppi.
Laws And Regulations In Finland
The primary law dealing with the gambling industry in Finland is the Lottery Act 491/65. Implemented in January 1966, the act is still the touchstone for the regulation of practically all forms of gambling in the country.
The granting of gambling-related privileges in Finland is a license-based system of exclusivity.
Under the law, slot machines, bingo, and casinos offering cash prizes and other items of value fall under the category of lotteries.
Finland’s Governing Body For Poker
As in Sweden and Norway, the gambling industry in Finland is subject to a total government monopoly. Practically all forms of gambling are subject to regulation and control by government-owned companies.
This monopoly is intended to reduce the negative social and health consequences of gambling.
In addition to reducing the risk of uncontrolled gambling, preventing crime and fraudulent activities, the monopoly also aims to encourage honesty of gambling operators and to protect the rights of consumers.
There are three entities responsible for controlling different areas of the gambling industry in Finland. RAY or the Finnish Slot Machine Association is responsible for casino and table games, including poker.
Legal Age To Gamble In Finland
Since 2011, Finland has implemented a gambling age restriction of 18 years old and above.
Popular Poker tournaments Hosted In Finland
Casino Helsinki, which is the largest casino complex in Finland, regularly hosts poker tournaments throughout the year.
Like the Pokerin SM (Finnish national championship), many of these are sponsored by Veikkaus.
In addition to top-ranked local players, the tournaments also attract a sizeable number of foreign nationals.
Finnish Poker Players To Watch Out For
Patrik Antonius first achieved fame in the poker world with two finishes toward the finals table of the European Poker Tour (EPT) and the World Poker Tour (WPT).
He finished at the 12th spot of the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, subsequently making it to the 15th place at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event in 2005.
A former tennis player and coach and a model, Antonius also came in at 9th place in the World Series of Poker $50,000 HORSE event, winning more than $200,000 in his biggest cash payout in 2006. In November 2009, he won more than $1.5 million, which is the biggest pot in online poker history.
Known by the name “LarsLuzak”, Kelopuro is a Poker Icons-sponsored player that has been turning heads since 2007.
Quickly moving up the ranks at Full Tilt Poker, he is a Texas hold ’em and Omaha hold ’em specialist who favours the high roller events.
He has been known to win as much as a million dollars per event, and is famous for his aggressive paying style.
Known among poker fans as “Ziigmund”, Sahamies is an Omaha expert who has achieved notoriety for his penchant for trash talking on the table.
In 2009, his total live tournament earnings stood at nearly $1.6 million, placing him in Finland’s all-time money list in the number four spot.
His total winnings on Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars amounted to more than $3.7 million in 2012.
Banking Options for Finnish Poker Players
Players that opt to gamble in one of the online poker rooms that cater to the Finnish market have a pretty board range of banking options for making deposits and withdrawals. These include:
- Credit cards and debit cards
- E-wallet services
- Prepaid cash vouchers
- Bank transfers
Currencies Used In Finnish Poker Rooms
The Euro is the official currency of Finland. Some online casinos and card rooms catering to the Finnish market will also accept Bitcoins, which are legal and VAT exempt in Finland.
The writing is on the wall: the increasing pressure by the EU for the government of Finland to end its monopoly and to open up the local gambling market to foreign companies means that changes may soon be afoot.
If the country follows in the footsteps of Denmark–which has already succumbed to pressure from the EU and has subsequently allowed the influx of foreign gambling interests–the poker scene in Finland may be a lot more open in the near future
Finnish Poker Players FAQs
Are there opportunities to play live poker in Finland?
There are actually only a handful of venues in Finland wherein you could play live poker. The rake can be pretty high in these places, which is why most players opt to play poker online.
If you are in Helsinki, the places to be in are Casino Ray and Grand Casino. In Aland, you can check out Casino Paf. Casino Ray is by far the most popular venue for live poker, and it is where most of the high profile internationally-sponsored tournaments take place.
Is it legal to play poker at offshore sites from Finland?
Finnish law does not implement a definitive ban on gambling in offshore online casinos and poker sites, although doing so is discouraged. The only places wherein you can gamble online legally are in sites that are licensed by RAY on the mainland and PAF on the Åland Islands.
That being said, many people do play in offshore online sites that aren’t duly-licensed by these two agencies. Local law enforcement officials rarely–if ever–go after online gamblers for playing on these sites, so you could theoretically play in them as well. If you do decide to play at an online casino that is not approved by the government, you do so at your own discretion.
Are there special considerations for playing online poker from Finland?
Because online poker is practically an unregulated industry in Finland, players will have to take certain precautions when playing at poker sites. In general, it would be best to stick to sites with a well-established reputation in the online community, or with sites licensed by a reputable agency such as Aldernay, the Malta Gaming Commission, or the KGC. Recommended sites for playing poker online include PokerStars and Party Poker.
Are poker winnings taxed in Finland?
Any money you win from poker in Finland is not taxed. Instead, taxes are levied on casino operators at the rate of 8.25% on net profits.