Veikkaus venues to remain closed amid Covid-19 crisis

4 June 2020

Finnish gambling monopoly Veikkaus has said it is yet to make a decision about the reopening of its gambling venues, with all facilities and slot machines set to remain out of action for the foreseeable future.

The operator first shut its arcades and took all retail slots offline on 13 March in response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. This was due to last until 31 March, but was later extended to an indefinite period of closure.

Veikkaus also halted raffle draws, but these started up again on 1 June after a month of suspension.

However, Veikkaus said its gaming venues will remain closed and slot machines switched off, with the operator yet to decide to when these will return, despite some restrictions being lifted in Finland.

As of 1 June, groups of up to 50 people are now permitted to meet in the country, while restaurants have reopened and sports competitions have returned. Some outdoor sporting facilities are also open again, while children are returning to school.

“Gambling venues remain closed for the time being due to the pandemic,” Veikkaus said, however. “We will announce the opening of gaming venues as soon as the decisions related to launching the operation have been made.”

In April, Veikkaus revealed how the temporary shutdown of its retail network and significantly reduced sports betting options, both due to the Covid-19 crisis, cut revenue by around 40.6%.

In the five weeks since its gaming arcades and casinos were shut and its gaming machines in retail premises taken offline from 13 March, the operator said gross revenue amounted to €95m (£84.9m/$106.4m), a significant drop on the €160m projected for the five-week period.

Despite the land-based shut-down, Veikkaus said it had not seen a significant shift to digital play. Between March and April, digital revenue had only risen by around €1m above projections for the period.

As part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, Veikkaus furloughed a number of staff. These temporary layoffs were expected to impact employees its Casino Helsinki property and the Feel Vegas and Pelaamo arcade chains.