Harness racing is the dominant form of horse racing prevalent in Finland, with very little attention paid to gallop racing. The country is one of the five largest trotting countries in the continent. All the horses in the country are either cold-blood breeds, called the Finn horses, or the standard breed.
The first formal harness racing competitions were organised in 1817 in Turku, while the concept of royal racing competitions was introduced in 1924.
Harness racing is one of the biggest spectator sports in the country. Racing events take place throughout the year, almost every day except for Christmas, and a total of 8,000 horses participate in these racing events every year. There are around 43 harness racing tracks in the country.
All the racing events in the country are managed by the Finnish trotting and breeding association. Of all the harness racing events, the most prominent ones are the Suurkilpailu competitions. These harness racing events have prize money of more than 10,000 euros. The most prominent races include St. Michael, Kymi Grand Prix, and the Finlandia-Ajo.
Like its counterparts, betting on horse racing is an integral element of the equestrian sport. If you also want to participate in the betting action in Finland, here is a brief guide to lead you in the right direction.
Betting on horse racing in Finland
For the Finnish people, betting on harness racing events is a way to boost the entertainment factor of the sport. As you cheer for your favourite horse to win, if you have wagered on the horse, the excitement and the anticipation would increase too.
There was a time when the popularity of harness racing had almost dwindled into non-existence. As people grew less dependent on horses for commute and transportation, harness racing waned. However, in the 1960s, the races again came into the limelight when toto (totaliser) betting was started.
In 1965, the winning amount distributed for betting on trotting was increased, due to which horse racing increased in popularity as well. During the next decade or so, the number of spectators increased manifold, and harness racing became one of the most popular spectator sports in the country.
Currently, harness racing ranks second after ice hockey in terms of popularity, and betting has played a major role in this regard.
When it comes to harness racing, accumulator bets, though risky, are a popular form of betting in Finland.
How to bet on horse racing in Finland
Currently, both on-track and off-track betting are allowed in Finland. The pari-mutuel betting is managed by Veikkaus Oy, an organisation that was launched in 2001 as a subsidiary of the Finnish Trotting and Breeding Association. It also introduced online betting in the country in 2002. The state-owned body maintains a monopoly on online gambling, and the locals are allowed to play only there.
The Finnish government has maintained a firm stance on online betting, and the domestic online gambling market is strictly regulated. However, its leniency has made way for many international bookmakers to penetrate the market.
As per law, it is deemed illegal to operate a betting site using a .Fi domain name. It is one of the main reasons why many sports betting sites are based in another part of the world or have strong links and acquire a license from another place.
The government does not plan to award local licenses to international operators. At the same time, there is no legal framework to prevent international sites from offering their services in Finland.
Some of the most popular online betting sites include BetHeat, STS bet, Mr. Green, Betway Sports, Light casino, and 888 Sport, among others. Most of these sites offer odds in a decimal format like many other European countries and also offer customer support in the local language to assist the bettors.
Is it legal to bet online in Finland?
Yes, it is legal to bet online in Finland, provided the betting site is a licensed entity. An unlicensed betting site is deemed illegal, and the government has adopted a strict approach to curtail illegal betting activities.
Advertising for international betting sites in the local media is also not allowed. However, loopholes are always there, and it is usually always possible to find ways around regulations if you are so determined.
Are the winnings from online betting in Finland taxable?
Winnings from bets on horse racing and other forms of sports are not taxed. Even if you win a bet at an unlicensed site, your winnings will not be deducted for taxes, provided the sportsbook is located in a European Economic Area.
What are the deposit options for online betting in Finland?
There are various options in this regard. The preferred modes of payments include credit or debit cards and e-wallet options like Skrill and Neteller. Moreover, the option of cryptocurrencies and vouchers like Paysafe cards is also available at some sites. In addition, you can also opt for a local banking option like Zimpler, Trustly, Nordea, and Euteller.
What does the future hold for Finland betting sites?
Finland has a rich history of betting, and the landscape of Finland betting sites is evolving rapidly. The state-owned company, Veikkaus Oy, holds a monopoly on gambling in Finland. Formed in 2017, Veikkaus was a result of a merger between three previously existing sports betting and gambling agencies. While Veikkaus boasts of having over two million loyal customers and contributes significantly to the local economy, many Finnish bettors have shown a preference for foreign betting companies.
The Finnish government has been lenient, allowing international betting sites to operate without a local license. These foreign betting sites, although they cannot advertise within the country or offer their services via .fi domains, face no legal mechanisms blocking access or payments to their platforms. This has led to a surge in online betting in Finland, with many Finnish bettors enjoying the diverse options and competitive odds provided by these international platforms.
However, the future might see some changes. Recent amendments to the gambling legislation aim to halt payments to unregulated sportsbooks. While the European Union might push back on these restrictions, if implemented, it could reshape the betting landscape in Finland. For now, Finnish bettors have no reason to stop wagering on their preferred international platforms. As the betting environment continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the balance between state-run monopolies and international betting sites unfolds.