Finland’s state-run gambling monopoly Veikkaus will likely face an external probe into its use of no-bid supplier contracts, according to local media.
On Thursday, Finnish media outlet YLE reported that state ownership steering minister Tytti Tuppurainen had summoned the chairman and CEO of Veikkaus to a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the gambling operator’s decision to award a multi-year technology contract to supplier International Game Technology (IGT) without a competitive bidding process.
In 2018, IGT was awarded an eight-year contract (with three four-year options to extend) to run Veikkaus’ online and retail lottery, sports betting and bingo platforms. IGT had been a Veikkaus supplier for years and the Finnish firm claimed its lawyers were of the opinion that this new deal represented “a continuation of an old agreement” and thus competitive bidding requirements didn’t apply.
However, local media reported that an external law firm had advised Veikkaus that the deal probably violated government regulations. Despite – or perhaps because of – this advice, Veikkaus reportedly sought to keep news of the deal on the down-low to avoid the wrath of Finland’s competition watchdogs.
Minister Tuppurainen said Thursday that the meeting with the Veikkaus execs had been “serious, but open and constructive.” Veikkaus provided its own report on the brouhaha for Tuppurainen but the minister has called for an independent external investigation into the matter.
Veikkaus spent most of last year on its back foot, dealing with public resentment over the company’s reliance on a network of ubiquitous slot machines as well as some truly irresponsible gambling advertising. A growing number of Finns are of the opinion that the old gambling monopoly model has run its course and would prefer to see a more competitive marketplace.
In other Veikkaus news, the company recently issued a warning to customers saying that a malicious app had appeared in the Google Play store purporting to be a legit Veikkaus product. Veikkaus noted that its Android-based apps are only available for download via the Veikkaus site and urged anyone who downloaded this app from Google Play to delete it immediately.
Veikkaus also warned that scammers had been cold-calling customers to convince them to purchase Veikkaus lottery products over the phone. Veikkaus said it has never engaged in phone sales or sought information over the phone regarding account identification, passwords or other personal details.