Finland Will Authenticate Players’ Identities on Slot Machines in 2023
Finland comes fourth on the list of the countries addicted to gambling. As many as 80 percent of its citizens regularly spend money on different games of chance. Altogether, the gaming Finns annually bring to their government about €2 billion in profits. In its love for gambling, Finland lags behind the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, where people waste even more money on lottery tickets, slot machines, and sports and esports betting. The overall online Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in Europe, which on average accounts for 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), is predicted to reach 24.7 billion euros this year.
While other countries worry about their citizens’ gaming addiction, Finland seems undisturbed by the Finns’ enthusiastic betting. Only Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THl) does voice its concern with gambling maladies widespread among the Finns. According to its findings, about 130,000 people in Finland struggle with gambling addiction. THL has also drawn attention to the ease with which young people in Finland can gain access to slot machines and alcohol. A resent survey has shown that sale assistants do not usually check people’s IDs when they use gaming machines in supermarkets or buy hard beverages. Only 12 percent of sales staff verified young people’s age when they made purchases. According to the results of the survey, due to this negligence, underaged people were permitted to play for money or drink alcohol.
Alarmed by the survey’s findings, THL demanded from the government to remove slot machines from supermarkets. It explained that their removal will reduce the harm that gambling causes to the Finnish people. It also brought Norway as an example. When the use of slot machines became outlawed in Norway’s supermarkets, people started to play less. Organizations responsible for offline and online gambling – nettirahapelit – did not immediately agree to follow in Norway’s footsteps.
Veikkaus, the Finnish government-owned betting agency, announced that perhaps in the future, users will need to verify their identities before they can play on slot machines. But for now, it added, this would be expensive for the government. According to Veikkaus’s estimation, the investment required to upgrade the slot machines will run in the region of 50 to 100 million euros. Veikkaus also said that if measures to verify people’s ID were ever taken, the rule would not apply to a popular weekly lottery game.
Indeed, the requirements to authenticate players’ identities are not going to affect all games and all types of gambling. People playing Finland’s weekly lottery will not need to show their IDs when submitting a coupon, because it is considered the least harmful of all existing games of luck. Veikkaus also assured that the switch to authentication would be gradual and would commence only in 2023. The reform will also affect more than 18,000 slot machines that can usually be found in supermarkets, kiosks, and at petrol stations.
It is unclear what authentication method the government plans to use for slot machines. Veikkaus is sure that there is no need to decide on a specific method now since technologies will surely change dramatically by 2023.