Finland’s Veikkaus To Shut Down Slots due to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect gaming industry’s around the world including Finland, where Veikkaus will shut down services temporarily starting this weekend.
Around the globe, countries are trying to figure out how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. For almost a year now, the world has been working on slowing the spread of the virus to save lives. In many areas, the virus slowed down and then picked back up again. Because of new positive cases, businesses are shutting down again or making changes to stay in business and keep employees and guests safe. In Finland, the state-run gambling monopoly Veikkaus has decided to close slot machines and gaming arcades in certain areas as virus counts are high again. The process of the shut down should be completed by this weekend.
On Thursday, Veikkaus reported it would shut down slot machines and gaming arcades on a temporary basis to try and slow the spread of the virus in the nation. Machines were taken offline already, and some arcades have already closed up shop.
By this Saturday, all these services will no longer take place in the country. The gambling services will not start back up until at least mid-December. And that will only happen if the case counts slow down. The announcement of the closures was made just a short time after health officials in the country revealed that the infection rate of the virus has risen at an alarming speed.
Jari Heino, the Channels and Sales Senior Vice President for Veikkaus, said that the company has been monitoring the situation closely regarding the pandemic. They have acted accordingly based on information provided by health officials.
The decision to shut down the retail businesses was made quickly on Thursday after the spike was announced. The Helsinki area has been particularly affected by an increase in positive cases.
New Responsibility Controls
Along with this new temporary closure, Veikkaus will continue with responsible gambling control installations. The operator has been working hard to strengthen polices and best practices regarding social responsibility.
Back in October, a mandatory ID verification process was announced for some slot machines operated by the group. The technology is being introduced in a pilot program before a network wide rollout of the ID tech is completed next year.
The revised Lotteries Act in Finland requires that ID verification is installed within slot games. It is mandatory that retail gaming venues in the country have the technology in place by 2023. Veikkaus decided after the revision was made that the measures needed to be implemented earlier and made a commitment to introduce the ID option in January of next year.
With the ID verification, players will need to provide identification when playing a slot machine. A Veikkaus player card can be used to verify identify along with a mobile app or bank card. These tools can be connected to the operator’s database.
The mandatory process was provided on 100 slot machines last month. It was extended to more machines this month. The goal of the new changes is to ensure the gaming environment is safe and can assist problem gamblers.
Another move by the operator to protect players was announced not long ago. They planned to remove 3,500 slot machines by the end of 2020. Even more slot machines, around 4,500, would be removed over the next five years. However, the operator soon decided to pull 8,000 games from operation. This means that just over 10,000 machines will be operational in 2021.
We shall see how Veikkaus responds over the next few weeks based on COVID-19 concerns in Finland. Will the machines continue to be offline as positive case counts increase? Just how long will players be without slot games and arcades?