Despite just 16 real-life casinos operating in Finland, the country is hugely enthusiastic about the industry. Finnish gamers prefer to use online casinos, and the numbers show that the industry is more popular than ever.
How the Finnish Gambling Industry Works
Finland is one of the happiest nations on the planet, and also one of the biggest gambling countries. Finns spend around EUR 2 billion every year on a variety of different casino games, but the industry is very different from what you might expect in other first-world nations. The gambling industry is a state-owned monopoly, run by Veukkaus Oy, the Finnish government’s betting agency.
Veikkaus Oy was founded in 2017 when three betting agencies merged. The agency is run with a view to distributing the profits made from the gambling industry to wider society. Some 53% of the profits are directed to the Ministry of Education and Culture, allowing for greater spending on youth projects, science, the arts, and physical education. 4% of the profits are given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and 43% is given to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Healthy for work improving social welfare and health.
While the system isn’t universally popular, this hasn’t stopped the gambling industry from thriving. Despite some opposition, Finns continue to be one of the biggest proponents of the gambling & netticasino industry. It has long been considered a patriotic thing to do, owing to the fact that the money is spent on government programs that help Finnish people. And, because the model has been so successful, some even suggest that it is inspiring other nations to reinvent their own gambling models.
A Stable Market
In Q1 2018, Veikkaus reported a 10% increase in digital gaming. Finnish people are moving more and more to online gaming. In this same report, Veikkaus announced net sales of EUR 805.6 million. In the latest report for Q3 2019, Veikkaus showed a market that was fairly stable. Despite a turnover increase in practically every game, Lotto revenue did increase as a result of a number of weeks of record-breaking rollover jackpots. The Lotto saw a turnover of EUR 267.4 million between January and September.
The numbers show an industry that is largely stable, with continued interest in digital gaming. The Q3 report showed a profit of EUR 762.2 million, with 42.9% of turnover coming from the digital channel.
Interestingly, the report also announced that Veikkaus would be working to reduce money spent on advertising on marketing, and putting a greater focus on promoting responsible gaming.
Multi-Million Dollar Industry Reshuffle
In 2019, Veikkaus announced that it would be spending between EUR 4 million and 8 million on a massive digital gambling reshuffle in an attempt to fight off competition from foreign operators. While Veikkaus can maintain its monopoly over the 16 casinos in Finland, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain control over the online market.
The industry reshuffle strategy will see the state agency invest in new online casinos games to meet the demand for new and innovative online games. It was also reported in the Finnish press that Veikkaus had begun negotiations with some of the biggest international online casino platforms, with a view to releasing new titles on their state-owned platforms.
It is a move designed to ensure that Veikkaus can continue providing government bodies with the funding they have come to expect from this extremely lucrative industry. Reports suggest that Finns gambled more than EUR 286 million on foreign casino websites in 2018, proving a substantial loss in revenue for the government.
Veikkaus also announced in 2019 that it would be starting a new partnership with International Games Technology, which will last for four years. The partnership will see PlayRGS, an IGT supplier, offer installation and support services as Veikkaus expands its online offerings. That means Finnish players can access table games, video poker, slots, and a range of other games that would have otherwise only been available through international casino sites. It is a major expansion for Veikkaus, and one that the agency hopes will bring customers back.
The move signals that Veikkaus is adapting to the times and will be focusing more heavily on online gambling.
A Change in the Law
A review of the Act on Lotteries is currently taking place, and proposals suggest that in the future, Finnish people might only be able to gamble online through the use of a Veikkaus gaming account. Further provisions, courtesy of the Ministry of the Interior, might also mean restrictions will be put in place on money transfers, making it virtually impossible for Finnish gamblers to take part in online casino gaming with foreign platforms.
The change is expected to take place gradually between 2019 and 2022, meaning the decision to improve online casino options will be welcomed by Finnish casino fans.