Veikkaus to Trial Account-Linked Slots

Veikkaus, the state-owned gambling monopoly in Finland, has announced that it will implement identity verification on some slot machines in the country this month. The scheme is currently still being trialed, and the kinks are being ironed out, hence the partial roll-out at this time. According to Veikkaus, all of the slot machines it operates across Finland will make use of the identity verification software from January of next year.

A row of four slot machines in a casino.

The new age verification measures that Veikkaus will apply to its slot machines in Finland is part of the government’s plans to improve responsible gambling in the country. Veikkaus plans to have such controls on all its slot machines by the end of January 2021. ©skeeze/Pixabay

The changes to the slot machines in Finland are being made to bring the operations of Veikkaus in line with the revised Finnish Lotteries Act. This legislation made it a legal obligation for operators that manage physical gambling locations to check the identity and age of all of those using their services.

This bill does not come into effect until 2023, however. Veikkaus has been a vocal supporter of the legislation and, as such, has called for the laws to come into effect sooner than 2023. In August, the operator implored the government to introduce the more stringent checks from the start of 2021. In the opinion of Veikkaus, the period given to implement the law was too long, as it would still see many people gambling underage in the meantime.

Veikkaus’ support for the new laws is the reason for its decision to begin rolling-out the age verification controls on its slot machines two years earlier than the government ordered. This will begin with the pilot scheme that started at the beginning of October. The scheme will see around 100 fixed-odds gambling terminals across Finland require ID verification or sign-in to an account to be used by players.

The system will work by prompting prospective players to verify their identity when they attempt to play the slot games offered. To do this, consumers will be required to sign in with a Veikkaus player’s card, using an app on their mobile phone or with a bank card that the operator has logged on its system and can link to the individual’s account.

In addition to the slot machine network that is operated by Veikkaus in the country, the new controls will also be applied to any new slot games that are launched by the operator before the start of 2021. This means that consumers will need to verify that they are of legal gambling age before they can play new titles that are being released like Kultatassu, Lampunhenki, and Viidakkovuori.

Veikkaus has stated that, in its opinion, the move towards mandatory age checks before gambling that is occurring in the country is one of the most effective measures operators can implement to improve responsible gambling.

The operator has been a supporter of such controls for some time now, and in a statement, it outlined the plan to trial the functionality of the controls before the full implementation next year. Veikkaus also outlined its plans to prioritize the promotion of responsible gambling at the beginning of the year.

The move towards mandatory age verification before playing slots will essentially mean that players will be forced to move towards account-based gambling when they play slot games. According to Veikkaus, this will facilitate the introduction of new tools that can be used to reduce the incidence of problematic gambling.

These tools include features like the ability to link the slot machines to the self-exclusion register that Veikkaus manages for those who wish to prevent themselves from gambling. This will allow consumers to directly block their access to the slot machines in the country from the devices themselves.

Depending on the success of this pilot scheme, Veikkaus has suggested that it aims to have all of its slot games that are in shops, kiosks, service stations, or restaurants equipped with the age verification measures by the end of January 2021.

The operator has suggested that players should register accounts for slot games before the controls become mandatory across the country. According to Veikkaus, just 10% of its user base that plays slot games regularly have actually registered accounts with the operator. Now, the operator expects a spike in registration because the games will be limited to registered players only.

Veikkaus has also called upon the government to bring the identification checks to all other forms of gambling in Finland.

To this end, Veikkaus aims to implement compulsory checks to verify the age and identity of its patrons in all of its gaming halls across the country by June of 2021. This will also apply to all of the Feel Vegas locations that are managed by the operator in the country.

The operator is not doing anything by half measures when it comes to ID verification. Veikkaus’ Casino Helsinki will begin enforcing these controls by the end of Spring 2021. On top of this, the new Casino Tampere location that Veikkaus is due to open in December next year will also enforce age verification once it opens its doors. The operator will slowly roll-out these checks to all of its products and services over the coming months, with the exception of scratch cards.

Veikkaus Will Keep €500 Loss Limits

As another facet of the Finnish government’s commitment to reduce the amount of dangerous gambling behavior of its citizens, the Ministry of the Interior for the country has announced it will maintain a €500 loss limit. This was set for certain games offered by Veikkaus back in May amid fears that lockdown measures would lead to more problematic gambling.

The loss limit was initially applied to fast-paced games that are played online in Finland, and the recent announcement means it will stay in place until the end of the year. The limit was designed to affect how much players could lose on online lotteries, slot games, and online bingo. It also applies to table games that are played online, excluding poker.

Loss limits are not a new rule for the Finnish public. Prior to the 1st of May, players were already expected to comply with a €2,000 monthly limit on losses and a €1,000 cap per week. This was brought down to a €500 cap both weekly and monthly when the gravity of the pandemic became apparent, and legislators scrambled to limit unsustainable gambling during the lockdown.

The initial plans that were outlined by the government put a provisional date of the 1st of October in place for the return of the previous limits. Recent discussions have led to the decision to push this back until the beginning of 2021, mainly because of the difficult financial strain that many have been subject to due to the recession caused by the pandemic.

The loss limits were also reduced because many feared that the closure of physical gambling locations during the lockdown would lead to a spike in the number of people using online gambling services. At present, gambling locations have been allowed to reopen, but the government is still concerned that the current situation with the virus could still contribute to problematic play online.

It is for these reasons that the government will continue to enforce the loss limits over the coming months. Loss limits were chosen as an effective measure over time limits because the amount a player is losing is ultimately a better metric to understand risky gambling behavior.

Maintaining these limits could be detrimental for Veikkaus, however, and the operator has already been significantly set back by the pandemic. In August, it was announced that the gambling monopoly is set to lose around €300 million as a result of the restrictions that were brought in. The continued loss limits could contribute further to these losses.

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A church in the city of Helsinki, Finland.

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