The monopoly enjoyed by Veikkaus, Finland’s state-run gaming operator, isn’t about to shrink or go anywhere just yet. This is according to the latest move by the government after it proposed new reforms for the nation’s gambling legislation.
On January 7th, 2021, the Ministry of Interior announced it was gathering comments on the proposed reforms touching on the Lotteries Act. According to the Act, the government seeks to increase consumer protection, shutting down black market gambling, and “securing Veikkaus Oy’s capacity to channel the demand for gambling.”
For the latter, the Ministry said: “the basic premise of the reform is that Finland’s gambling system will also in the future be based on the state monopoly in line with the government program.”
In what is seen as dictatorial tendencies, the Interior Ministry seeks to empower the National Police Board to increase the Veikkaus’s monopoly. This will be through compiling a list of licensed gambling sites from other countries that offer services to gamblers in Finland as well as a list of local banks and other payment providers that would be required to block money transfers to and from these sites.
This move comes after the company signed a Gaming IP Licensing deal with Yggdrasil in December that would see the gaming provider supply the monopoly’s retail estate with fully compliant gaming content by mid-2021.
Still, on the proposed reforms, the Ministry looks to block marketing of various “particularly harmful gambling games, such as slot machines.” This comes after Veikkaus announced plans of laying off hundreds of employees in its retail shops due to covid-related issues as well as public relations issues touching on the youth accessing these products. Further pushing the marketing prohibitions is an umbrella of concerns on the ubiquity of slot machines available in Veikkaus-owned arcades as well as third-party retail associates.
As the Government seeks to prohibit all marketing of slot machines et al, it has no plans on slowing down the marketing of sports and race betting products. According to the Government, this would hamper Veikkaus’s “capacity to channel the demand for gambling.”
On New Year’s Day, the monopoly announced mandatory customer identity verification to be implemented in all its retail slot outlets. By 2023, the gaming operator seeks to extend this requirement to other gambling games. Fans of lottery scratch cards will not have to provide such identification until 2024.
In an interesting move, the Ministry seeks to pave the way for Veikkaus to open a subsidiary that will allow it to offer non-gambling services but not for the general public. According to the Ministry, the subsidiary’s focus will be on “providing gambling products and services to other companies.” This move comes after the monopoly sounded the alarm over 2020 profits set to hit €300m below the forecasted figures after the pandemic ravaged the world’s economy.
Still, on revenues, the company seeks to extend the ‘temporary’ loss limits (€500 per day, €2k per month) for online games such as slots, table games (poker not included), Tähdenlento (sweepstakes), lotteries, and bingo after a December announcement.
Back to the reforms and the Ministry will continue to accept comments of the proposed reforms until February 5th. After which the Government will sift through the comments to provide a final document for the Finnish legislature to review in June.