Veikkaus announced Tuesday it will temporarily lay off up to 800 employees from January 12, as the spread of Covid-19 cases rises in Finland.
Furloughs Will Occur Gradually Starting January 12
Finnish state-run operator Veikkaus Oy has announced temporary furloughs set to begin in early January due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the betting agency launched negotiations concerning the potential layoffs of up to 800 employees as Finland struggles to cope with the rapid increase of coronavirus cases.
According to Veikkaus’ director of channels and sales Jari Heino, the layoffs will primarily affect workers of the sports betting and sales units, “for whom [the operator] cannot reasonably arrange other suitable work or training that meets the needs of the employer.” However, the furloughs will not last for more than 90 days and will occur gradually according to the workload of each team and employee.
With the majority of its slots and gaming machines shut down during the pandemic, Veikkaus aims to lower costs via temporary furloughs instead of permanently laying off its workers. It is understood that the operator will avoid redundancies when possible through paid leave.
Veikkaus To Reopen Properties in Kainuu
In a press release issued Tuesday, Veikkaus announced that its gaming facilities in 16 hospital districts where the spread of coronavirus is rising will remain closed until the end of the month, following the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s recommendation. Its properties in Kainuu, where the situation has improved, should soon reopen. Lapland, Eastern Savo, and North Savo are currently the only three districts where Veikkaus offers land-based gaming.
“The current goal is to restore business and open Veikkaus’ own gaming venues and decentralized slot machines when the situation in the hospital district allows it. In line with that goal, the layoffs in the area would end at the same time,” Mr. Heino declared.
The government-owned operator said it has been actively monitoring the development of the coronavirus situation.
“Our common goal is to beat coronavirus in Finland and move towards a better place in society.”Jari Heino, director of channels and sales at Veikkaus
Finland’s Measures Against Problem Gambling
The operator also said it plans to launch mandatory slot authentication at the beginning of next year. Players will be required to authenticate themselves before playing any of Veikkaus’ gaming machines. According to Mr. Heino’s statement, “mandatory identification is a very effective way to prevent problem gambling and significantly facilitate the supervision of minors.” From January 12, players will be able to temporarily or permanently self-exclude from gambling. Additional accountability tools should be provided in the future.
In April, Finland’s Ministry of the Interior issued a decree reducing loss limits for Veikkaus’ online lotteries, table games, slots, and bingo to €500. The order was set to expire on October 1 but was extended until the end of 2020.