Finnish gaming monopoly Veikkaus has denied local media reports suggesting that players are spending as much as €11.0bn (£9.51bn/$12.22bn) across is gaming machine estate, arguing the reported figures do not offer a true representation of its actual sales.
Claims that players' annual spend on gaming machines was as high as €11.0bn prompted criticism of the under-fire operator, which in turn led to it addressing the claims directly.
Veikkaus pointed out that it bases its sales figures on actual customer losses – or gross margin – which meant that its turnover from gaming machines amounted to €840.3m in 2018.
The operator's chief financial officer Regina Sippel explained that the media's figures included amounts won by players then wagered without being withdrawn.
To illustrate this, she said, a player could deposit €10 in a machine, win €200, then spend the lot without withdrawing the funds at any point.
Sippel said that although a turnover of €200 may have been calculated over the course of the consumer’s playing time, the player only lost €10 in the gaming session, as this is how much the player deposited into the machine.
“From the customer's point of view, he played and lost €10, not €200,” Sippel said. “In this case, turnover may accrue on each spin of the game, but it gives a completely false picture of the actual sum lost.”
The media reports come at an uncertain time for Veikkaus, with questions being asked about its future as the Finnish gaming monopoly. A survey published in April, commissioned by igaming affiliate Kasino Curt, claimed that a majority of Finnish citizens are in favour of abolishing the country’s current regulatory framework for gambling.
Last month, another survey, also commissioned by Kasino Curt, also found more Finns oppose the current gambling monopoly than support it. The findings, though based on a small polling audience, pointed towards public attitudes towards Veikkaus worsening.
Sippel's intervention following negative media coverage marks the second time a Veikkaus executive has felt the need to address press claims about the business. August saw executive vice-president Velipekka Nummikoski attack a column recommending its monopoly status be abolished, arguing that doing so could lead to a significant reduction in funding for social causes, and lead to a spike in problem gambling.
For the first half of the year, Veikkaus revealed that revenues and profits dipped after it introduced tighter responsible gaming controls.
Speaking at the time, chief executive Olli Sarekoski admitted that the business' future was the subject of “heated public debate”.
“Many people are wondering how the altered atmosphere will affect the conditions of the company’s future operations and the Finnish gaming system,” he said.
“Unfortunately, gaming always involves problems that cannot be done away with in any system. We take all detriments associated with gaming extremely seriously. Responsibility and reliable games are the foundation of our operations. We monitor the development of gaming related harms regularly, and we work hard to fight problem gambling.”