Finnish casino monopoly Veikkaus is to start reducing the number of slot machines operating across the country from January next year, with about one-fifth of its installed base to be shut down by the end of the year.
The reduction would continue in parallel with the accelerated roll-out of new guidelines for social responsibility revealed this year in October. It requires compulsory player identification checks, which previously suggested by the operator would trigger a decrease in slot play, encouraging numbers reduction.
By the end of 2020, Veikkaus aims to reduce the maximum number of machines to 15,000, implying a phase-out of 3,500.
Executive Vice President Marko Peltokorpi explained that Veikkaus was coordinating the reductions to ensure that the impact was spread across all partners, sectors and geographic areas, and to criticise the excessive number of machines in certain outlets.
As such, it will introduce a limit on the number of slots at each point of sale, restricting numbers in hypermarkets and service stations to a total of seven, which currently host “dozens” of devices, said Peltokorpi.
In all other outlets, like shops, kiosks and restaurants, the maximum number drops to five. Many terminals will not be able to integrate the mandatory recognition technology from 2021 and will be disabled as a result.
Nevertheless, added Peltokorpi, this will have an effect on Veikkaus ‘ gross profit, which is projected to decrease in its full-year results for 2020 by around € 30 million. The commission paid to retailers is likely to decline by about € 4.5 million (£ 3.8 million/$5.0 million), although inflation may drive down the retail value.
“The reductions are noticeable and will certainly be visible to customers,” Peltokorpi added.
Veikkaus will provide updates every two months to ensure stakeholders are aware of the progress of the reduction drive, with the first to be published in March 2020.
This process will continue until 2025, when the operator expects to be in operation across Finland between 10,500 and 13,500 machines.
Veikkaus has been forced into action in the midst of concerns about its future and that demands for its monopoly status to be abolished, with the firm introducing a new socially responsible marketing code alongside the new slot machine controls. Mandatory system recognition was expected to be completed by January 2022, but was moved forward by one year.