Veikkaus, Finland’s state-run gaming monopoly, is slowly forcing itself out of the gaming business. The latest example is a reduction in operating hours of its slot machines in retail establishments.
Veikkaus announced that it will limit the opening hours of slot machines, as well as the visibility of games in grocery stores. Beginning September 1, grocery stores and other retail locations will only be able to offer slots between 9 AM and 9 PM. Before, the stores had flexibility to control when players could access the machines.
In addition, as of the same day, Veikkaus will limit the visibility of the game menu on slots in restaurants, kiosks, gas stations, grocery stores and more. Also, going forward, the machines will not display the options on their screens. Finally, the game menu will only appear after the customers have identified themselves at the machine.
Veikkaus Turns the Screws
Since July 2021, all Veikkaus’ gaming machines have required identification with a Veikkaus card and a phone or payment card connected to the customer relationship. Since then, it has continued to introduce new measures that restrict interaction with the machines even more.
Susanna Saikkonen, VP of Sustainability at Veikkaus, says that it wants to offer the stores the opportunity to do more business without enticing consumers to play the machines. However, the restriction only applies to the use of slot machines in grocery stores.
Veikkaus also offers customers the opportunity to prevent themselves from playing slot machines altogether. It is possible to activate the blocking, for example, through Veikkaus’ online service or with the help of our customer service,” said Veikkaus VP of Sustainability Susanna Saikkonen.
Another reason for the change, according to Veikkaus, is to reduce the harm caused by gambling. It cited a survey on gambling conducted by Taloustutkimus earlier this year that showed gambling affects 2.5% of the population.
In addition, the survey determined that 21% of Finns with gambling problems find physical machines more problematic. Seeing the devices hinders their ability to control their addiction.
The continued introduction of new regulations has not gone over well with some in the gaming industry. This is evidenced by comments from the European Gaming and Betting Association. At the same time, they have also impacted the revenue Veikkaus can offer the country.
The introduction of ID controls on slots and a reduction in the number of available machines have taken their toll. As a result, Veikkaus reported revenue of €1.10 billion (US$1.104 billion) for 2021, 12.7% less than a year earlier. In addition, casino games lost over 30% compared to 2020.
Stricter Controls On the Way
The requirements for player protection are likely to become even stricter in the future. For example, a planned regulation provides an extension of the required player identification to other forms of gambling. This means purchasing lottery products will become more difficult.
Originally, the new regulations were to come into force from January 2023. However, Veikkaus called for a postponement until January 2024. Now, the entity needs more time to ensure that all slot machines and lottery terminals are technically able to carry out the required ID checks.
Veikkaus has already begun to replace the machines in order to be able to act in accordance with the law in the future. However, due to COVID-19 and the situation in Ukraine, there have been delivery difficulties for some components that are required for an update.
It’s unclear when the current situation could change again. As a result, Veikkaus may not be able to meet its projected timeframe for the changes.
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