Finland’s national gambling operator has announced the launch of an independent council on gambling ethics, with the aim of ensuring that it meets its social responsibility obligations.
The news of the launch of the ethics council follows the introduction of a range of new gambling measures by the state-owned organisation Veikkaus, which included the significant reduction of the number of slots gaming machines that the company operates. It has also committed to ensuring compliance with new legislative conditions on preventing under-age gambling, with a promise to bring in improved age-verification measures for all slots games by 2022.
The previous ethics council ended in 2017 when the Lottery Reform Act allowed Veikkaus to take over the racing operator Ray and lottery company Fintoto, creating one state-owned gambling company.
But Veikkaus has run into bad publicity in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the company suspended all marketing activity after it was criticised for a marketing campaign that was deemed to be insensitive, and that led to a debate in the Finland parliament over the next stage of gaming reforms in the nation. Government organisations also criticised Veikkaus over its extensive £45 million marketing budget, and 25,000 people signed a petition calling for the removal of Veikkaus slot games from all shops, restaurants and service stations.
Under pressure, the Chief Executive of the company, Olli Sarekoski, said that their concerns had been understood and that in future, Veikkaus will reduce its reliance on slot machines.
And a board meeting earlier this week, the company decided to relaunch the ethics council, charging the executive management team to come forward with specific proposals at the next board meeting. Whether the measures will be enough to satisfy political and public opinion remains to be seen.