Finland’s state gambling monopoly Veikkaus reported a slight dip in sales during the first quarter of 2018, partly due to the introduction of new responsible gambling tools.
Figures released this week show Veikkaus generating sales of €805.6m in the three months ending March 31, down 1% from the same period last year. On the plus side, net revenue improved 2% to €256m.
Veikkaus comprises three previously standalone gaming operations – lotteries and sports betting, slot machines and horseracing – that were amalgamated under the Veikkaus banner at the start of last year.
Traditional lottery and keno sales were up 4.2% to €303.5m, while slots revenue (land-based and online) rose 6.7% to €207m.
Combined sports and race betting revenue fell 3.8% to just under €150m due to slack retail betting activity. Retail wagering was down 14.6% while online betting eked out a modest 0.8% rise.
Live betting improved more than one-quarter, but the expected betting bonanza from the Winter Olympics failed to materialize, which Veikkaus blamed on the significant time difference between Finland and South Korea.
Veikkaus’ digital revenue improved by 10% year-on-year, bringing digital’s share of Q1’s overall sales to nearly 44%. Weekly active online customers were up 11.4% to 626k.
Veikkaus claims to have captured “almost 90%” of the country’s overall online market in Q1 but says it recognizes that it needs to compete with internationally licensed operators and thus it has decided to “renew the company’s strategy in 2018 to respond to the strong change in the operating environment.”
In December, Veikkaus announced a new responsible gambling program that, among other things, requires land-based slots players to verify their identity before the machines will operate. To date, roughly 45% of Veikkaus’ 2.1m registered customers have used the new verified card system.
The monopoly also introduced a new online program that allows customers to set deposit and spending limits in advance, and launched a promotional campaign via TV, digital media and land-based venues to alert users to the new program. In March, a Veikkaus survey indicated that 95% of respondents claimed to be aware of the program.