Betting Revenues Falling in Finland

All is not going well for gambling in Finland. Veikkaus is the national betting agency in the country, but their revenue has been falling. This means less money is being distributed to Finnish good causes such as sports, science, culture and social welfare.

The gambling industry is rather different in Finland with the government having a monopoly. Now there is a call for the income generated by the Veikkaus to be transferred to the state budget. That’s the view of Antti Kurvinen who is the Minister of Science and Culture. The politician believes that if changes aren’t made, then the groups who receive money from Veikkaus will see their incomes affected.

Kurvinen has only been in his job for a couple of months. He believes that after carrying out research, the changes should begin in 2024. By distributing Veikkaus revenues via the state budget, this he feels will see cash flow levels become more predictable.

His views are shared by Erkki Likanen, who used to be the Governor of the Bank of Finland. He chaired a working group that called for comprehensive reform.

Kurvinen compared the situation with Veikkaus to that of Alko. That’s the state monopoly alcohol retailer. Their profits go into the state budget and like Veikkaus deal with a product that can cause human suffering if overindulged in.

Why are Veikkaus seeing their income decline? The ongoing pandemic has seen a big fall in the amount of revenue coming from slot machines. There has also been measures taken to deal with the problem of gambling addiction in Finland. It’s a double-edged sword of course with the willingness to reduce the addiction rate but that will in turn affect the revenue Veikkaus makes.

There are concerns about the proposed plans. If employed, then it would be decisions made by politicians that would determine the funding of beneficiaries. That is something which Kurvinen admits would be the case. In his opinion though, that is a lesser evil than being constantly worried about falling revenues.

“In the long run, however, it would be clearer and less problematic to make political value decisions than for the success of Veikkaus’ business to be the determining factor in how many opportunities there are for young researchers in Finland or how much art is funded in Finland,” said the Minister.

There have also been discussions on reforming the Lotteries Act. Kurvinen wasn’t keen on talking about that. “There is one question about how betting proceeds are distributed and there is another question about where slot machines are located, how they’re used and what kind of lottery law we have,” he said, so that’s a discussion for another day.

According to Kurvinen, the distribution of Veikkaus’ income can justifiably be equated with the distribution of the income of another state monopoly company: alcohol retailer Alko. According to Kurvinen, the two companies are similar in that both offer products that cause human suffering when used to excess.

The Minister is hoping that a working group will soon be set up to discuss Veikkaus. He said: “It’s not too late yet, but time is running short.”