Finland was one of the Nordic iGaming markets to enforce tough restrictions on gaming venues as the COVID-19 pandemic was mounting its charge across the country. Yet, the fourth quarter of 2021 seems to be accompanied by the easing up of anti-COVID restrictions. As a result, the country’s gambling behemoth, Veikkaus, announced that it has brought back its slot machines to cafes and restaurants, first in the Satakunta region, and then across other areas of key commercial interest to the company.
The announcement was made on Friday, October 1, and allowed the company to reopen its slot machines in restaurants, karaoke, and dancing bars across South Karelia, Satakunta, Southwest Finland, and Uusimaa. Veikkaus was able to act quickly in the matter, having to undergo just a week of suspended business operations which was originally announced on September 24.
Veikkaus has been in regulatory cross-hairs for a while now. Outside of concerns about its monopolistic stature, Finland has been pushing for Veikkaus to operate to a new income distribution model which was pitched back in August. While the temporary hit to the company’s business was not welcome, it was far from a blanket ban. For example, while certain venues were suspended, Veikkaus’ gambling establishments continued to churn. Grocery stores, service stations, and kiosks in Satakunta continued to operate as well offering Veikkaus-supplied games, with the temporary restriction seemingly applying only for a few specific venues.
Veikkaus Caught in a time of Great Regulatory Change
However, Veikkaus has to stick to new schedules in terms of device availability and the Finnish government may yet seek to impose even stricter measures. Shutdowns have had an unfavorable impact on Veikkaus’ retail business with the company posting 32.6% lower revenue for 2020 year-over-year.
Unlike online competitors such as Casino Gorilla, Veikkaus has had to stave off the pandemic as well as deal with growing regulatory scrutiny into its business operations. Veikkaus has mostly been criticized as a monopolistic venture, although the company has undertaken key steps towards ensuring regulators and legislators that the company’s acting in consumers’ best interest.
The company now has mandatory verification checks for its slot machines and will be regulated further under the changes that are coming forward with the revised Lottery Act. Advertisement for dangerous products, such as slots, for example, could be suspended from some channels, if not completely, but other marketing opportunities are going to increase.
The Lottery Act would expect Veikkaus to also reconsider how it locates its slot machines on-site as video surveillance could be necessary for all machines in order to ensure that control and harm prevention objectives are met as mandated by law.
Last year, Veikkaus announced it could be furloughing over 800 employees and while it managed to keep most people employed, a new similar issue has arisen. Veikkaus has revealed this week that it would seek to make up to 190 employees redundant, with the lowest number possible according to the company 125. This comes amid a broader restructuring as the company is under governmental and financial pressure. Around 160 employees will see their contracts further renegotiated come January 2022. Veikkaus is hoping to ensure that the company stays sustainable and weathers