Coronavirus: Should the Finnish Casino Industry Fear Extinction?


Like many sectors – airline, chemical, tourism, hotels, motels, and retail, the igaming industry is taking a dive during the times of Coronavirus.

According to the most positive estimations by the American Gaming Association, the US economy will lose $21.3 billion in direct spending by consumers, if casinos stay closed for two months. If the quarantine is carried over into the summer, however, losses will escalate, and it is difficult to foresee with any degree of precision right now the extent of the disaster the world will face after the end of the lockdown.

Land-based casinos are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis in the gambling industry. As soon as the virus arrived to America, the majority of them closed their doors to visitors. These radical measures were justified: the crowds had to be stopped from flocking where people touch chips, cards, slot machines, drinks, and money and, in so doing, spread Coronavirus among themselves. By early-April, therefore, almost all facilities in the United States – around 94 percent of them – were temporary out of service.

In Finland, brick-and-mortar casinos were closed even earlier. At the beginning of March, Veikkaus, the Finnish national gaming company, announced that it would shut down not only land-based facilities but also all gaming sites and slot machines in supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, coffee shops, and kiosks. Feel Vegas and Pelaamot were also closed to visitors. All customer events that Veikkaus often organizes were cancelled until the end of the quarantine.

Online activity has been popular since the late 1990s, and many people had preferred wagering from homes even before the Corona pandemic broke out. Now, when people are forced into isolation and cannot fly to Casino Helsinki or the PAF Casino in Mariehamn, they are expected to turn to websites, which offer a wider selection of bonuses than land-based casinos. They can find an equally rich depository of bonuses on licensed and unlicensed websites. Both types of websites treat their customers to generous bonuses, though the Finnish government’s attitude to them differs. It lends complete support to licensed local websites run by the PAF and RAY but takes issues with unlicensed foreign operators. At licensed websites, players’ data are protected: neither their maximum wagers nor restriction to operating hours nor self-exclusion measures are ever disclosed. Players also need to satisfy certain conditions to join local websites. They must be at least 18 years of age. Unless they join a No Registration Casino (known as “kasinot ilman rekisteröitymistä“), they need to register to start playing. They also need to have a Finnish bank account, a Finnish security number, and a permanent address in Finland. Veikkaus also requires players to set a daily and monthly loss limits. Among the most secured licensed casino websites designed for Finnish players are, Betsson, Unibet, ComeOn, and NordicBet.

The government’s protection is not extended to Finns wagering with foreign unlicensed providers. Because placing bets with unlicensed websites is not outlawed in Finland, players can register with any foreign operator but they do this at their own risk. On their part, foreign websites – 888sport, Bet365, Rizk, BetWay, and LeoVegas, among others – encourage Finnish players to use their bonuses and even translate their content into Finnish language to make their interaction with it easier.

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