The lockdown has gradually been lifted around the globe, and casinos in many countries have been re-welcoming customers to their premises.
Even though coronavirus is still raging in the United States, land-based betting houses have reopened on and off the Las Vegas Strip and elsewhere in the country. Other countries are still temporizing, keeping casinos closed until a healthier time. The United Kingdom has already allowed restaurants, hotels, and pubs to reopen. But, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that casinos are excluded from the easing of coronavirus measures. In Canada, too, casinos are still shut down, while their operators are mulling over the feasibility of new post-quarantine rules.
Finland has lifted the national lockdown in many areas of people’s lives. Finns are allowed now to eat in restaurants and bars, provided they do not congregate in large companies. They can work out in gyms and root for their favorite sports teams at the stadium. As Finish airports have been reopened, Finns are permitted to fly now to the countries located in the Schengen area, save Sweden, where the death toll is the highest among the Scandinavian countries. Domestic business trips within Finland are encouraged as well. But casinos, called in Finnish “kasinot,” are meanwhile closed, and so are ubiquitous slot machines. Veikkaus, the Finnish government-owned gambling agency, intends to open its slot machines only in the middle of July. It has also recently announced that not all existing slot machines would be back in the game. It plans to switch off permanently as many as 8,000 slot machines across the country. Veikkaus’s decision is motivated by the government’s growing concern about Finnish people’s uncontrolled gambling habits.
The same concerns have informed the Finnish government’s order to reduce the maximum monthly and daily loss limits at local gambling websites. Although there is no statistical evidence that Finnish gamblers have become addicted to online gambling during the coronavirus pandemic, more people flooded into digital casinos after land-based casinos and Feel Vegas slot halls had been closed for quarantine. During the lockdown, more than 3,000 people have opened new accounts with Veikkaus, whose website normally attracts about 700,000 gamblers a week. Worried that the prolonged lockdown can cause Finnish players to waste large amounts of money, the government decided in May to bring their gambling under control. The maximum monthly loss limit at digital casinos was reduced from €2,000 to €500. The maximum daily limit was lowered from €1,000 to €500. These numbers indicate that if a player spends €500 within one day, he or she will not be allowed to wager until the beginning of the following month. These amendments will continue in force until the 30th of September, 2020.
Even in happier times, the Finnish government does its best to protect gamblers wagering at its licensed gaming websites. Gamblers’ personal data is always secured against a data leakage threat. Veikkaus also establishes strict rules that gamblers must follow in order to place bets at its digital casino. Although in Finland, young people can buy lottery tickets when they are only 15 years old, they must be 18 years of age to gamble online. Gamblers need to register to start gambling, unless, of course, they wager at new No Registration and No-Account casinos, which are gaining popularity in Finland. To place bets at Veikkaus virtual casinos, people also need to have a permanent address in Mainland Finland.
There are numerous unlicensed gambling websites to which Finns can easily transfer money, if they want to use their services. The Finnish government officially considers these websites illegal, though it does not impose a ban on them at the moment. In the near future, however, it might amend its Lotteries Act and IP-block all unlicensed digital casinos in a bid to stop the flow of money out of the country.