Veikkaus, the state-owned monopoly of Finland, attributed the COVID-19 pandemic and ‘significant sustainability measures’ to its slashed revenues in 2021 as it navigated through tough trading conditions.
Those measures and effective cost efficiency did however ensure that profit remained consistent with 2020, buoyed by a reduced lottery tax bill.
Publishing its Annual Report for 2021, the monopoly confirmed that the pandemic, plus the resulting safety measures such as mandatory identification, had an adverse impact on business, with full year revenues dropping 12.7% year-on-year to €1.10bn.
Lottery sales fell in 2021, with Veikkaus posting revenues from its Lotto product of €162.7m, a 6% fall year-on-year, and Eurojackpot sales falling 7.2% to €127.1m. The fall in lottery sales was primarily attributed to lower jackpots compared to previous years.
The most severely hit vertical was Veikkaus’ slot products, which were depleted by 52.2% down to €143m as gambling halls and casinos were forced to shut intermittently throughout the year because of introduced safety measures. The monopoly identified the newly imposed mandatory loss limit as a secondary factor in the slot sales drop.
Sports betting provided a welcome boost during 2021 as the sporting calendar resumed; wagers from sports betting reached €149m, up 8.6% year-on-year.
The measures put in place by management, including the loss of some staff and the reduction of lottery tax to just 5.5% meant that Veikkaus posted an operating profit of €680.4m, consistent with 2020’s figure.
“2021 brought challenges in the business. Due to the corona pandemic, Veikkaus’ slot machines and own venues were closed for about four months during the first half of the year, and some of the staff were laid off”, commented Regina Sippel, CFO of Veikkaus.
“One of the highlights of the year was that Finland’s second casino, Casino Tampere, opened at Nokia Arena in December. The two casinos in Finland, Casino Helsinki and Casino Tampere, are pioneers in the European casino industry when it comes to creating a sustainable gaming environment.”
Navigating regulatory changes in Finland during the year, the state-owned operator imposed mandatory identification for both slot games and table games. This has allowed, Veikkaus stated, for ‘a safer gaming environment’.
Additionally, the mandatory loss limits have widened the scope for Veikkaus to detect problem gamblers and provide them with the support tools they need.
“We are progressing in our goal of being a gaming company with mandatory identification of all gaming, both digitally and in the physical gaming venues. In 2022, mandatory identification will be introduced in coupon games and in 2023 in scratch cards,” added Susanna Saikkonen, Responsibility Director.
A total of 1.8% of respondents to a comprehensive survey were classified as people with gambling-related problems, corresponding to 75,000 people at the population level.
“It seems that our sustainability measures have contributed to reducing gambling problems. In the future, we will see in more detail what impact the corona pandemic has had on the reduced incidence of gambling problems and how lasting the change is,” concluded Saikkonen.