Veikkaus has announced that it is to reduce its overall slot machine capacity by more than the amount than initially planned, while the Finnish gambling monopoly has also revealed it will reopen its retail network this month, and start to bring slots back online from July.
Late last year, Veikkaus said it would cut the number of slot machines in its retail network by 3,500 by the end of 2020, in line with the implementation of its new social responsibility strategy.
Veikkaus has now committed to taking 8,000 slot machines offline before the end of the year. This means that by the start of 2021, Veikkaus will have reduced its overall retail slots network by 40% compared to January 2020.
“In December 2020, there will be a maximum of 10,500 machines in the retail network – shops, kiosks, and service stations; at the beginning of this year, there were around 18,500 machines,” Veikkaus senior vice president for channels and sales Jari Heino said.
Meanwhile, Veikkaus has confirmed that it will reopen its Casino Helsinki property, as well as its Feel Vegas and Pelaamo arcades to a limited number of players from 26 June, after the locations were forced into a period of temporary closure due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Slot machines hosted in locations such as shops, kiosks, service stations, and restaurants will then come back online from 15 July, but Heino said that a number of new responsible gambling measures would now be applied to the machines and arcades.
This will include slot machines only being available to customers between the hours of 11am to 4am at the latest. Heino said this measure would remain in place until compulsory identification comes into effect from January 2021, after which consumers will be able to self-exclude from the operator's slot network.
Veikkaus will also introduce session timers across all of its slot machines in retail network, with the system to inform users how long they have been playing every 15 minutes.
“It helps you notice the passing of time, if you fail to keep track of it by yourself,” Heino said. “However, if gaming still causes problems, you can already set a block on your gaming, when logged in.”
In addition to the new responsible gambling controls, Veikkaus will implement a number of other processes to help protect staff and customers during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
This will include installing plexiglass shields at the checkout desks and between slot machines, as well as providing hand sanitiser stations near to all gambling terminals. Staff will also have access to personal protective equipment, while social distancing will be encouraged at all slot machines and inside arcades.
Last week, Veikkaus suggested that it was unclear when it would be able restart its retail services in Finland amid ongoing concerns over Covid-19. Veikkaus had already resumed raffle draws after a one-month suspension caused by the pandemic.
“We want to make sure that both Veikkaus’ staff and the customers have the best possible protection against Covid-19,” Heino said. “We are ready to react fast, if the situation requires it.
“We want to keep up dialogue with our stakeholders and work for an even safer gaming environment every day.”