Veikkaus Blames Decline On Closed Finnish Arcade Venues

Veikkaus, Finland’s state-owned casino monopoly, has reported its full-year 2020 financial reports, showing gross corporate income of €680.2 million, down 33 percent from the previous year.

The decline, according to Veikkaus, was largely due to the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had slot machines shut down completely or partly for a period of five months. The lottery tax was €151.4 million, a fall of 25.4 percent.

For the year, the operator’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) was €1.26 billion, down 25.5 percent. The pandemic lowered its GGR by more than €300 million over the course of the year. The retail network contributed 56.6 percent of the GRR, while the digital platform contributed 43.4 percent, an improvement of 11.6 percent.

Point-of-sale games

The rise in the digital channel’s share was attributed to a fall in the share of point-of-sale games following the closing of slot machines for the majority of the year, according to Veikkaus.

58.1 percent of all gameplay was done with ID checks in place. The percentage of authenticated slot machine gaming was 11.5 percent. ID criteria for slots were checked in October and rolled out nationally in January of last year.

Entire Finnish casino industry down

In 2020, the entire Finnish casino industry was worth around €1.585 billion, down 21 percent in terms of gross gaming income. Veikkaus accounted for about 80 percent of the overall sector.

The operator had a market share of about 63 percent of the entire online market, and the total sum wagered on Veikkaus games was around €8.20 billion.

Gambling disorder studies

In 2020, Veikkaus commissioned two gambling-related studies from Taloustutkimus, a market research agency. In both samples, the overall prevalence of gambling disorders was 2.5 percent.

Also when slot machines were open outside of the four months of closure in the spring and again in large areas of the country beginning in November, the operator claimed that only a limited number of machines were allowed to run to ensure a safe distance between the machines in order to comply with COVID protocols.

Revenues were also impacted by the shortage of competitive sports around the world, which resulted in a decrease in the amount of betting markets open.

Regina Sippel, CFO, stated: “We had to take major, even difficult, decisions, on a tight schedule at Veikkaus due to the coronavirus epidemic in 2020, in order to protect the health of our staff, customers, and retailers.

“To Veikkaus, just as to many other companies, the year of the coronavirus was challenging; however, it was also a year of positive, remarkable solutions that have enabled the building of a more responsible gaming environment.”

Revised policy and CSR programme

In 2020, Veikkaus revised its policy and CSR programme, concentrating on player accountability.

SVP legal affairs and CSR Hanna Kyrki added: “The updated strategy is based on an even safer and more responsible gaming environment. Despite the challenges and insecurity caused by the epidemic, we made major decisions to work on the building of a more responsible gaming environment in 2020.”

Over the year, Veikkaus made a significant policy change by growing the overall number of slot machines on its distribution network by about 8,000, or about 40 percent. The maximum number of machines permitted in one location is now four, but historically, the larger store units could have up to 15 slot machines.

The operator has already started preparing for mandatory player recognition across all of its games in 2020, which it aims to introduce by 2023. Its deployment is expected to save players about €300 million a year.

With the exception of poker, Veikkaus has set a €500 overall daily loss limit for ‘fast-paced online games’ such as online lottery games, slots, bingo, and table games. This is expected to last at least until March of this year.