Finland’s Veikkaus gambling monopoly reported a slight turnover decline in the first half of 2018 after introducing new problem gambling controls.
This week, Veikkaus announced that its total sales in the six months ending June 30 came to €1.59b, down 0.3% from the same period last year. Despite the turnover decline, revenue improved 1.8% to €875m and profit rose 2.5% to €505.5m.
Veikkaus encompasses three state-run businesses – lotteries, race and sports betting, and land-based slot machines – that were combined into a single unit in early 2017.
Veikkaus gets most of its business via lotteries, but combined land-based and digital slots sales were up 5.4% to €413.6m, while sports betting turnover fell 1.6% to €281.4m, despite the impact of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Retail betting was fingered as the culprit, as retail turnover fell nearly 10% while digital betting rose 2.1%.
Land-based outlets accounted for 57.1% of sales while the other 42.9% was spent via digital channels. The digital share is down slightly from the 44% the company reported in Q1.
Veikkaus estimates that Finland’s overall gambling market accounted for gross gaming revenue of €981m in the first half of 2018, a year-on-year improvement of 1.9%. Of this revenue, Veikkaus estimates that its share was roughly 89%.
Last December, Veikkaus introduced a new responsible gambling program that requires land-based slots players to authenticate their identity before play is permitted. Digital customers were also given the capacity to set deposit and spending limits in advance of play.
Last December, Veikkaus said that the new tools could cost the company up to €100m per year. This week, Veikkaus CEO Olli Sarekoski suggested that the annual impact could be as much as €170m by 2021. Sarekoski added that the new responsible gambling tools had reduced online growth by €10-15m in the first half of 2018.
Paf, which holds a gaming monopoly in Finland’s Swedish-speaking autonomous Åland islands region, introduced similar responsible gambling tools for its digital channels in June. Finland leads all European Union member states in gambling spending, and studies have shown 80% of Finns gamble at least once every year.