Debate on reforming wholesale Finnish gambling laws has arisen, as state-owned monopoly Veikkaus suspends its advertising activity until the end of September, implementing a full scale review of its marketing strategy.
Veikkaus’ latest marketing campaign, which depicts a ‘therapist character’, advising patients that ‘cravings for thrills and winnings are normal behaviour’, has been chastised for mocking Finnish mental health services, with Veikkaus further criticised for failing to meet its social responsibility standards as the national gambling monopoly incumbent.
Issuing a statement, Veikkaus Chief Executive Olli Sarekoski underlined that the ‘facts could not be denied, we have made mistakes’, ordering Veikkaus marketing to suspend its activity.
Government stakeholders had previously warned Veikkaus that it estimated €50 million advertising could be reviewed, as a research report conducted by Finland’s National Health & Welfare Department deemed that the monopoly’s messaging was ‘not in-line with the nation’s public health interests’.
Responding to criticism, Veikkaus governance has appointed Helsinki management consultancy Tekir to undertake a review of its marketing operations, assessing all advertising disciplines and engagements.
Nevertheless, Veikkaus actions and criticism appear to have triggered a wider Finnish national debate on advertising and gambling reforms.
Addressing Parliament, Sirpa Paatero Finland’s Minister for Local Government stated that Veikkaus had been let down by an ‘unclear mandate’ as national gambling monopoly, having been forced to absorb Ray and Fintoto operators in 2017 as part of the government’s ‘Lottery Reform Act’.
In addition, Paatero stated that wider gambling stakeholders such as the media, charities and sports clubs had been let down by the Lottery Reform Act unfulfilled mandate which has been enforced on Veikkaus to adhere to.
Moving forward, Paatero has underlined that multiple stakeholders should work with the government on ‘Phase 2’ of the Lottery Reform Act, improving all-around operating and advertising standards for Finnish gambling.
“When Veikkaus was founded as a single company three years ago, it was imperative that the second phase of the lottery law be completed quickly, whereby, among other things, these adverts and all new games would go through to get more detailed rules of the game,” states Paatero.