Finnish ombudsman seeks to break-up Veikkaus control by state departments

Political debate on how to reform Veikkaus continues, as Finland’s Consumer Ombudsman urges the government to overhaul the gambling monopoly’s operational procedures and governance structures.

Speaking to media, Krisi Leivo, Director General of Finland’s KKV Consumer Authority, stated that Veikkaus profits should be directly controlled by the state.

Leivo believes that Veikkaus would be a more beneficial state asset if the monopoly were to break away from its direct tie-ups with three government agencies.

Enlarged under reforms complying with Finland’s ‘2017 Lottery Reform Act’ – Veikkaus was chosen as the state’s unified gambling monopoly absorbing the assets of RAY (racing) and Fintoto (lottery) enterprises.

Under its new operating structure, Veikkaus governance is forced to transfer its proceeds to three separate Finnish agencies – The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health & Social Affairs.

Leivo states that an overhaul of Veikkaus structures, with the monopoly directly transferring funds to the government, would see three major Finnish state departments detached from gambling profits and revenues.

“If the money went to the state budget, this would offer a clear solution for the beneficiaries,” Leivo explained to media.

A rough 2019 has seen Veikkaus criticised by Finnish health agencies for failing to meet its remit on problem gambling protections and social responsibility.

Furthermore, Finnish MPs demanded urgent changes to Veikkaus governance as the monopoly was embarrassed having promoted an insensitive marketing campaign, which appeared to mock ‘mental health’ issues.

This October, Veikkaus announced the appointment of a new 13-man supervisory board and ethics council which will direct the firm’s social responsibility and messaging standards.

Defending Veikkaus, Chief Executive, Olli Sarekoski has underlined that the enlargement of the monopoly was the correct decision, which has been undermined by ‘unambiguous legislation’ governing its operations.

He reminds Finnish MPs, stakeholders and agencies that Veikkaus remains in stage-1 of its transformation programme, in which a reformed monopoly will deliver a new responsibility directive in the next phase of its development.

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