According to a report by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), Veikkaus does not comply with its own principles for responsible marketing nor the legislation on the marketing of gambling. In order to increase responsible practices, Veikkaus must advertise the tools for controlling gambling in a more diverse manner and at least as effectively as it advertises its games. Additionally, the regulation of marketing concerning gambling must be reformed to help in preventing and reducing problem gambling.
Veikkaus has drawn up its own principles for responsible marketing communications. The FCCA has examined the responsibility principles and how well they have been implemented in practice. The report is part of the FCCA’s broader project that will examine the current gambling system from the perspective of preventing problem gambling and gambling-related problems.
The company’s responsibility principles state, for example, that Veikkaus does not target minors with its marketing. However, minors are exposed to gambling advertisements and gambling, because they are clearly visible in their living environment. Veikkaus has yet to address how it takes into consideration the impacts of marketing not only on minors, but also vulnerable consumer groups such as those with gambling addictions, the developmentally disabled as well as those substance abuse or mental health problems.
According to its principles of responsibility, Veikkaus does not glamorise heavy gambling. In reality, its marketing uses an abundance of expressions that are incentives and encouragement. Marketing is enforced with the placement of slot machines in busy locations, where many people come and go, which keeps the possibility of gambling in people’s minds. The motivation to gamble is also maintained by emphasising the use of gambling profits to fund non-profit activities and its slogan which states that “Finns always win”.
According to the FCCA report, marketing by Veikkaus has first and foremost encouraged people to gamble. The prevention and reduction of gambling problems have been sidelined. In order to increase its status as a responsible actor, Veikkaus should advertise the tools for controlling gambling in a more diverse manner and at least as effectively as it advertises its games.
Veikkaus’ marketing practices have contradicted with the fact that according to the EU, a company in with a monopoly status cannot encourage or promote excessive gambling. As a result of the attention Veikkaus’ marketing received in summer and autumn 2019, the company has reduced its advertising and issued a public promise to pay closer attention than previously to the responsibility of its advertising. As of yet, there is no information on the impact of these measures.
Regulation concerning the marketing of gambling must be reformed
The supervision of marketing is hindered by the ambiguous nature of some parts of legislation concerning marketing. For example, legislation does not specify in a clear enough manner what type of marketing is legal and where the line goes between games classified as green, meaning less harmful, and red, meaning harmful.
The report proposes that the provisions contained in the Lotteries Act be amended so they are more detailed and that the policies drawn up by the National Police Board of Finland on the marketing of gambling be updated. The provisions and approaches used in the marketing of alcohol and cigarettes could be utilised for developing the regulation of marketing concerning gambling.
Veikkaus has received numerous reprimands from the National Police Board of Finland for violation of the Lotteries Act. This contradicts with the EU requirement that Veikkaus comply with legislation in order to retain its monopoly status. The marketing bans and conditional fines imposed as penalties for the violation of regulation concerning the marketing of gambling should be more substantial. Finland could follow Britain’s example and establish a body to inspect gambling advertisements before they are published.
FCCA report (in Finnish): Veikkauksen rahapelien markkinointi ja markkinoinnin vastuullisuus
Senior Specialist Helena Tuorila, tel. +358 (0)29 505 3653
Research Professor Mika Maliranta, tel. +358 (0)29 505 3060