Veikkaus to ramp up player protection controls

15 August 2019

Finnish gambling monopoly Veikkaus ramped up its player protection controls with plans to monitor its customer rewards programme to avoid encouraging excessive gambling, as well as establishing an Ethics Council to oversee responsible gaming efforts.

The new safeguard, described as a "liability monitor", will be used to flag promotions or offers that may encourage players to gamble more, allowing the operator to make necessary changes.

"Social responsibility principles are central to all of Veikkaus' operations," the operator's chair Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo explained. "It has continuously implemented measures to enhance social responsiblity safeguards, and the board regularly evaluates the causes of gambling problems."

This will be complemented by the formation of the Ethics Council, a measure which has been approved by the Veikkaus board. A more concrete plan, including the composition of the council, must now be drawn up by the operator's executive management team ahead of the next board meeting.

These new social responsiblity measures follow last week's announcement that Veikkaus was to suspend advertising for all non-lottery products amid criticism of its marketing strategy. Faced with a public outcry at ads that were said to encourage excessive gambling, chief executive Olli Sarekoski admitted the company had made mistakes. As a result, he said, it would cancel advertising until the end of September, in order to conduct an in-depth review of promotional activities.

The operator will also look to reduce the number of slot machines in operation across Finland. With new ID verification safeguards to be integrated to all Veikkaus gaming machines, the number of terminals will be reduced over the coming years, with the operator having removed table games from restaurants and its Pelaamo arcade chain.

Finns are increasingly in favour of an end to Veikkaus' monopoly over gambling, according to a survey published in April this year. The survey, conducted by polling specialist Bilendi on behalf of igaming affiliate Kasino Curt, suggested that almost a third of people favoured a licensing system for offshore operators.