The revised Finnish Lotteries Act will make verification checks compulsory at all retail gambling venues in the country from 2023, but Veikkaus has called for this date to be brought forward. The operator has already committed to introducing the measures at its Feel Vegas and Pelaamo arcades from January 2021.
It will now launch a pilot scheme next month, which will see mandatory ID verification, or account-based play, brought in for approximately 100 terminals across the country.
Consumers playing on these terminals will be required to identify themselves using their Veikkaus player’s card, an approved mobile application or a bank card that is connected to the operator’s customer database.
The identification measures will also be applied to all new Veikkaus slot games launched before the end of 2020. Players will need to identify themselves before being permitted to access new titles such as Kultatassu, Lampunhenki and Viidakkovuori.
“The transition to mandatory identification is one of Veikkaus’ most important responsibility measures, which aims to prevent gambling problems,” Veikkaus’ director of channels and sales Jari Heino said. “With the pilot to be carried out in the autumn, we want to test the functionality of the identification controls.”
Veikkaus said that mandatory identification checks – which effectively constitute a shift to account-based play for slots – would also allow it to introduce new tools to help prevent problem gambling. This will include linking machines to its self-exclusion system, meaning players can block access to the devices directly from the terminals.
All Veikkaus decentralised slots in venues such as shops, kiosks, traffic stations and restaurants will require customers to verify their identity before they can gamble by the end of January next year.
“We hope that as many slot machine players as possible will register before it becomes mandatory,” Heino said. “Currently, only about 10% of slot machine players are registered. By offering games only to verified players, we aim to increase the registration rate before January.”
In addition to slot machines, Veikkaus has called on the Finnish government to consider expanding the mandatory identification measures to other forms of gambling.
The operator aims to have mandatory identification in place at all of its gaming halls and Feel Vegas locations from the same month by June next year. It will also extend the measures to Casino Helsinki by spring 2021, as well as the new Casino Tampere venue, due to open in December 2021. Account-based play will also be gradually rolled out for other products it offers, with the exception of scratchcards.
Mandatory identification measures form part of Veikkaus’ wider plans to tackle problem gambling and related harms. This includes taking 8,000 slot machines offline before the end of 2020, more than double the amount it had previously said it would withdraw.
A recent survey from Taloustutkimus showed that around 2.3% of the Finnish population – around 95,000 people – are estimated to have a gambling problem.
Veikkaus said its commitment will continue despite last month revealing that its profit in 2020 could decline by as much as €300m, from a combination of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disruption and tighter social responsibility measures. This estimate was after the monopoly saw a 28.1% year-on-year drop in gross revenue and 33.6% decline in profit for the first half of the year.