Finnish slot machine players will need to provide ID in new problem gambling measure

  • National gaming operator taking steps to tackle addiction
  • Slot players will need to confirm their identity

Finland’s chief betting operator has announced plans to introduce identity verification for slot machine players.

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Verification on slot machines will slow down problem gambling – hopes Finland.

Veikkaus will roll out the new regulatory system by 2023, as part of sweeping reforms of the gambling industry which aim to crack down on rising problem gambling rates.

It is hoped that adding user authentication to electronic gambling machines will reduce players’ exposure to harm and bring down the number of addicted gamblers.

Authentication process rollout expected by 2023

The new authentication system is likely to incorporate the Veikkaus card. These membership cards allow players to log in before they start playing, and track the level of play. They are used to distribute comps for active players – and also to monitor play for signs of gambling harm. However, they are not yet mandatory.

New slot machines introduced to Finland will start to include the authentication process. Players will need to verify their identity at a qualifying public space, such as the supermarket, before they will be able to use the machines.

Once verified, all play will be linked to that gambler’s account – allowing for early intervention and better support if a problem is noted.

By 2023, Veikkaus expects that all of its electronic games will carry an authentication system.

Other forms of gambling may also be subject to restrictions. However, the state lottery is likely to be excluded from the program, on the grounds that gaming addiction is very rarely linked to lottery play.

Questions for industry as Veikkaus works out details

Little is known at this stage about how the process will work, and what the exact terms will be. Veikkaus, which has a monopoly on gaming in Finland, is hesitant to reveal much because of the potential for change before 2023.

Responsible gaming manager Hannu Rinkinen told Iltalehti reporters that payment technology, and the games themselves, will change dramatically over the next five years.

Authentication software will need to adapt to a rapidly changing industry, and the identity verification scheme could look very different to initial plans.

“It still remains to be seen whether or not the requirement to authenticate will affect all games and all types of gambling,” Veikkaus executive Pekka Ilmivalta stresses.

He told reporters that the scheme will be rolled out in a “controlled manner” and that user verification is “the most efficient option” for minimizing gambling harm.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare backs the authentication idea. A recent report called user verification an “effective method for reducing the ill effects of gambling”, and noted that there are 130,000 people battling gambling addiction in Finland.

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