Veikkaus reforms ethics council in response to public pressure

Finland’s under pressure gambling monopoly Veikkaus will re-establish an independent ethics council to make sure that it fulfils its social responsibility mandate across all operating verticals.

The ethics council confirmation came after the state-owned operator introduced a raft of new gambling protection measures this week, including significantly reducing the number of slots across its leisure portfolio.

Furthermore, adhering to new legislative amendments it confirmed that it will introduce new age verification provisions across its entire slots’ inventory by 2022.

Olli Sarekoski, Chief Executive of Veikkaus, acknowledged that public concerns had seen 25,000 Finns sign a petition to remove Veikkaus slots from Kiosks, shops, restaurants and service stations.

Leading the Finnish monopoly, he said that a reformed Veikkaus will be less reliant on slot machines as a vertical.

The ethics council was disbanded in 2017 as Finland’s ‘Lottery Reform Act’ ordered Veikkaus to absorb Finnish racing monopoly Ray and lottery operator Fintoto, establishing a singular state-owned gambling enterprise.

Nevertheless, Veikkaus has faced criticism operating as Finland’s gambling monopoly, with government bodies criticising its €50 million advertising account and games portfolio as being detrimental to the nation’s public health interests.

This August, Veikkaus was forced to suspend its entire marketing activity, having published an ‘insensitive’ marketing campaign which featured a ‘therapist character’ advising patients that ‘cravings for thrills and winnings are normal behaviour’.

The advertising blunder has triggered a debate in Finnish Parliament on how the government should develop the ‘next phase’ of Finnish gambling reforms, having turned Veikkaus into the nation’s sole gambling operator.

Defending its position, Sarekoski said that Veikkaus had not been supported by ‘unambiguous legislation’, which has not taken into account changes in gambling and shifting public attitudes.

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