Minister proposes transfer of Finnish gambling revenue to state budget

Veikkaus has seen revenue slide over the past year.
Veikkaus has seen revenue slide over the past year.

Finland’s minister for science and culture wants revenue from the state-owned gambling operator Veikkaus to be passed to the state budget.

Finland.- The minister for science and culture Antti Kurvinen has proposed that Veikkaus revenues be transferred to Finland’s state budget to safeguard funding for charities.

Noting that the state-owned monopoly’s revenue has declined, he argues that without changes, the income of charities and other groups that receive funds from Veikkaus will suffer. 

He called for the operator’s revenue to be made part of Finland’s state budget from the start of 2024. The revenue would be administered in a similar way to revenues from state alcohol sales

He told the Finnish News Agency STT: “My view is that from the beginning of 2024, Veikkaus’ income should be transferred to the state budget in the same way as, for example, Alko transfers its own dividends and income to the state budget, from which they are used for good purposes.”

He said the distribution of Veikkaus revenues through the budget would make cash flows more predictable for beneficiaries.

Kurvinen said: “Without a clear change and reform, we will find ourselves in a situation where the income of Veikkaus’ beneficiaries is constantly falling. This is about the income of Finnish science, culture, youth organisations and especially sports and exercise.

“Recent years have shown that we are in a strange situation here: the success of a Finnish gaming company determines what kind of resources there are, for example, for top Finnish sports and youth sports or for high-level Finnish research. This creates a strange, uncertain situation.”

Those opposed to such a change note that it would give politicians more power and make the funding of good causes dependent on political decision-making.

However, Kurvinen said: “In the long run, however, it would be clearer and less problematic to make political value decisions than for the success of Veikkaus’ business to be the determining factor in how many opportunities there are for young researchers in Finland or how much art is funded in Finland.” 

Kurvinen became minister for science and culture in May. He said he had researched Veikkaus’ income distribution and discussed it with several of the organisations that benefit from funding.

He argued that Veikkaus’ income can be compared with that of the state monopoly alcohol retailer Alko since both offer products that cause problems when used excessively.

He said: “Alko profits are not earmarked for substance abuse education or social and health care costs, for example, but go straight into the state budget.”

Kurvinen urged the government to create a parliamentary working group on the issue as soon as possible. The issue is being overseen by the prime minister’s office because it involves various ministerial areas of responsibility.

Veikkaus income falling

Veikkaus’ revenues are currently distributed to organisations involved in culture, sports, science and youth work, health and social welfare. However, its revenue has been declining, partly due to retail closures as a result of Covid-19 but also due to the company’s own safer gambling initiatives and reduction in its number of slot machines.

In March, Veikkaus reported a 32.6 per cent drop in profits for 2020. It reported profit of €680.2m, while gross gaming revenue (GGR) fell 25.5 per cent to €1.26bn.

More than half of GGR (56.6 per cent) was generated through Veikkaus’s retail network. The share taken by its digital channel increased by 11 per cent.

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (KKV) has also said that Veikkaus revenue should go to the state treasury. It has recommended that Veikkaus be placed under the power of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

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gambling regulation Veikkaus