Veikkaus admits failings over age control measures

10 July 2020

Finnish gambling monopoly Veikkaus has pledged to enhance its age controls after an investigation by the National Board of Police identified a number of shortcomings with its current measures.

The investigation took place during the spring, with the Police Board conducting checks across the Veikkaus retail network in Finland. This saw secret shoppers pose as underage players in its venues.

Veikkaus currently only permits players over the age of 18 to gamble and has in place a system where its staff must challenge a customer’s age if they do not look old enough.

However, the Police Board found that only 16% of its test customers were asked to prove their age at Veikkaus agency points and play centres, while 40% were questioned at gaming halls and Feel Vegas’ locations.

“The results show that we are failing in our age limit controls; we should have been able to achieve a much better result than this,” Veikkaus’ director of responsibility Jarmo Kumpulainen said. “Our games are for adults. Our activities in age limit control have not been sufficient so far. We have now taken immediate action to remedy this.”

In response, Veikkaus has announced a series of new measures to clamp down on underage gambling.

Going forward, should underage player be allowed to gamble, Veikkaus will shut down slot machines at the location for five days and monitor the site for one month. Should further underage gambling take place, Veikkaus would then remove the slot machines entirely

This will be supported by the previously announced introduction of mandatory identification checks for slot machines in retail outlets from January 2021, something Veikkaus said would make it more difficult for underage players to access the machines.

In addition, Veikkaus proposed the formation of a new organisation to oversee the implementation of age controls in the country, as part of Finland’s revised Lotteries Act. This, the operator said, could be in the form of a public authority that would have similar powers to bodies that govern products such as alcohol.

“Veikkaus will immediately start negotiations on the changes with key industry organisations and partners, with the aim of introducing new underage gambling controls across its sales network during the second half of the year,” Kumpulainen said.

“Point-of-sale staff will be instructed and trained in new practices. New verified findings will result in sanctions. Age limit controls will also be supported by developing the skills of retailers through courses and training.”

Late last year, Veikkaus set out a host of new responsible gambling measures as part of an effort to help protect players from gambling-related harms.

These included reducing the overall number of slot machines it operates by 3,500, as well as amending its marketing strategy to focus more on promoting responsible gambling and the mandatory identification checks on slot machines.

However, Veikkaus last month vowed to increase the number of slot machines it will take offline, saying 8,000 terminals will be withdrawn before the end of the year. This means that by the start of 2021, Veikkaus will have cut its retail slots network by 40% compared to January 2020.