Finnish gambling operator Veikkaus is revamping its operations to put more emphasis on responsible gambling.
The company plans to reduce its 18,500 slot machines by 40% over the next six years as it looks to address concern over the extent of gambling harm in the country.
The move comes despite Veikkaus announcing a 2.1% drop in gross gaming revenues so far this year and the company acknowledging that some of the new measures will greatly affect turnover in the future.
Veikkaus’ President and CEO Olli Sarekoski told a media conference yesterday: “On the basis of the principles, we have taken and will continue to take several measures, through which Veikkaus will build an even safer and more responsible gaming environment for its customers.
“Public social debate has been rightfully concerned about whether it is acceptable that those who are in the weakest position of all have to suffer to benefit the common good. The fact that the money goes to society and is further allocated to good purposes is probably not enough anymore to justify the problems caused.
“The debate has called for Veikkaus’ responsibility towards individuals. Our honest answer is that we have responded to the debate by appealing to our responsibility towards society. That is not enough.”
He highlighted the fact that the company’s sustainable business is based on responsibility and reliability and that the operator ‘must bear responsibility’ for the players of our games and need to be able to offer effective tools for gaming control for those who need them.
The firm said that it is currently updating its strategy to lay more focus on responsibility. Another big strategic goal for the operator is to secure its leading market position in Finland even in the digital environment in 2025, and to compete in international b2b business.
Some of the measures being introduced include reducing marketing and make it easier for the players to quit gaming. This includes a decision to bring forward the adoption of compulsory identification for play on slot machines.
Sarekoski explained: “Veikkaus will bring forward compulsory identification by a year from what was laid down by Parliament last spring. In other words, compulsory identification will already be introduced in January 2021. Compulsory identification will enable the players to set a permanent ban on their slot machine gaming. It also enables us to prevent underage gaming. These measures will also have a significant impact on the total number of slot machines.”
Veikkaus introduced the chance to use mobile devices for player identification on slot machines in September, following which people have had the option of identifying themselves on slot machines not only by showing their Veikkaus Cards or payment cards linked to their Loyal Customer status but also by using mobile applications or browsers. Identified players have access to effective tools for gaming control. In addition, identified gaming helps Veikkaus to fight crime and to improve consumer protection. According to the firm’s estimates, compulsory identification on slot machines will lead to an annual decrease of ca. EUR 100–150 million in turnover.
Veikkaus has also adopted new critical recommendations on marketing by Tekir, an external organisation tasked to draft a report on Veikkaus.
Nora Vähävirta, Veikkaus’ COO, said: “We have laid down new guidelines for Veikkaus’ responsible marketing. They affect the volume, content, supervision, and processes of marketing. We are about to create a new corporate culture for marketing.”
Veikkaus’ Board of Directors decided to set up an Ethical Council for Veikkaus in August and to complement Veikkaus’ management rewarding system, introducing a responsibility indicator linked to the development of gambling-related problems.
In September the Board of Directors also made several other principled decisions that are associated with measures to develop the company. Sarekoski added: “The scale of the work to be done is huge, and the development measures require careful planning. According to our estimates, we are gradually reaching a phase where the measures are taking a concrete form, and we will be able to start making decisions related to them in early 2020.”
Highlights for Veikkaus January – September period
- Turnover for EUR 2 230.4 million (-4.1% as compared with January – September 2018)
- 57.1 percent came from the points of sale, whereas 42.9 percent came from the digital channel
- Gross gaming revenue EUR 1 267.1 million (-2.1%)
- Profit EUR 762.2 million (+1.3%)
- Almost all the games saw their turnover fall, with the exception of Lotto, whose turnover (EUR 267.4 million) increased 6.7 percent