”Veikkaus’ year 2019 had a good start in terms of business. The result was affected especially by a Lotto jackpot, which rolled over for six weeks in a row. February also brought with it the biggest jackpot won in Lotto’s entire history, EUR 15.5 million,” says Olli Saarikoski, president and CEO of Veikkaus.
“At the beginning of the year, we had to make difficult decisions at Veikkaus, with the objective of revising our cost structure and enhancing our operations.”
Despite a good start for this year, a trend of fierce competition from online casino sites forced Veikkaus to conduct cooperation negotiations, following which ca. 330–360 employment contracts ended. Around 300 of them were part-time jobs.
Expansions are also in the plan as new the Casino Tampere will open in 2021. “Our objective is to ensure Veikkaus’ future in the tightening digital competition, where gaming is shifting strongly towards the digital channel. As a result of the structural changes in retail trade, our point-of-sale network has also been reduced considerably in the past few years. By acting in a cost-efficient way, we can make sure that Veikkaus will be able to offer excitement and experiences to the customers even in the future and continue to be a good employer to a large number of gaming industry professionals,” Saarikoski stated.
Despite declining profits, Veikkaus remains committed to fighting gambling problems and helping clients control their playing habits. Peluuri, a service run by Veikkaus is dedicated to helping people struggling with gambling habits. One of the ways Veikkaus is trying to reduce overplaying is by increasing “identified gambling”. Last year, 46.1 percent of all gambling on Veikkaus sites took place identified.
“There has been a lot of public debate over gambling problems. It is good that the responsibility of our operations and the reliability of our games are still seen as significant values. Veikkaus keeps monitoring the development of gambling-related problems regularly and developing measures to control problem gambling. At present, Veikkaus is preparing for comprehensive identification on decentralised slot machines, which will be introduced in 2022, enabling the players, for example, to set limits on their own gaming.”
According to Veikkaus’ estimate, the compulsory identification will reduce the profit from slot machines by ca. EUR 100–150 million annually. This will affect the lottery tax paid by Veikkaus by ca. EUR 12–36 million.
“The monopoly status is based, in part, on Veikkaus’ competitiveness. We want to be able to provide games responsibly, minimizing gaming-related harm even in the future, in order to channel the gaming revenue to the benefit of Finns,” Says Saarikoski.
Veikkaus is a company owned entirely by the Finnish State, with a special mission. The company generates over one billion euros a year for the common good. The income is spent on culture, sports and other charitable and social causes. Veikkaus Holds the exclusive right to operate all gambling in Finland and employs ca. 1 700 gaming industry professionals. The company operates over 20 000 Slot machines nationally and runs the only casino in Helsinki.
Paul Kostner - HT