Finnish gambling monopoly Veikkaus has decided to extend the shut-down of its arcades and slot machines hosted in retail outlets prompted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic indefinitely.
The operator first shuttered its arcades and took its retail slots offline on 13 March, originally until 31 March. With that date fast approaching, it has opted to continue the shut-down until further notice.
This, it said, aimed to mitigate the risk of its customers, partners and employees being infected with the virus.
“The coronavirus has changed rapidly every day in Finland and around the world,” Veikkaus chief executive Olli Sarekoski said. “People’s health is an issue that must always be prioritised over anything else.
“We strive […], as much as we can, and to take measures to prevent the virus from spreading through different touch surfaces and through person-to-person contact.”
This means that slots at shops, kiosks, restaurants and service stations will not be operational, while Veikkaus’ Casino Helsinki, Feel Vegas and Pelaamo arcades will remain closed. While it still offers sports betting where possible, the range of markets available have been severely curtailed by the shut-down of almost all major sporting events.
The operator said it was continually evaluating the impact of the pandemic on operators, but at this stage had no plans to lay off employees.
“We are in the midst of the biggest social crisis in our immediate history,” Sarekoski said. “Future prospects have changed rapidly, even for Veikkaus. The crisis affects our operations, but the time to evaluate the effects will come later.
“Now it is important that we care for our fellow humans as well as fostering our own wellbeing.”