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LM: Supermarkets make millions from Veikkaus' fruit machines every year

Only one supermarket chain revealed how much it makes on the one-armed bandits however, according to Lännen Media.

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The state-owned national betting agency Veikkaus hands over about one billion euros in profit to government ministries and more than €200 million in taxes—nearly two percent of the government budget. Image: Retu Liikanen / Yle

The nearly-universal placement of gambling machines in supermarkets across the country helps to bring in millions of euros to grocery store chain coffers every year, according to a fresh report from media group Lännen Media.

According to a survey by the media group, fruit machines owned and operated by the country's gambling monopoly Veikkaus paid out more than 40 million euros to retail chain S-Group during 2017-18.

The retail cooperative reported that the amount it earned for hosting the machines in its Prisma, S-Market and Alepa stores was the same both years — about 21 million euros annually. S-Group's total revenue in 2018 was around 11.5 billion euros.

S-Group was the only major supermarket chain to directly reveal how much money they get from the gambling machines.

The company's two main competitors — Kesko, which runs various chains of "K"-branded grocery stores, as well as German-based supermarket chain Lidl — both refused to disclose the amounts that they earn from the brightly-coloured gaming devices.

Stores earn big on gambling commissions

Lidl's CEO Nicholas Pennanen said that the fees Veikkaus hands over to supermarkets for placement of the machines in stores is only part of the story. Pennanen said Veikkaus also pays business partners commissions on the money put into the machines.

Kesko's Director of Service Business, Petri Toivonen, said that those gambling commissions are an important source of income for businesses like petrol stations and convenience stores.

Veikkaus itself did not answer the media group's specific questions regarding commissions it pays to clients.

The state-owned gambling agency has been criticised in recent months for failing to properly address the societal problems caused by gambling. Following the criticism, the gaming monopoly has vowed to remove 20 percent of its slot machines across the country by the end of this year, saying the company had not done enough to reduce gambling addictions.

There are currently around 18,500 of Veikkaus' video gambling machines in stores, bars and restaurants across the country.

What's it like to live with a gambling addict? Listen to this episode of our All Points North podcast in which we explored the dire effects of Finland's gambling problem. You can hear the podcast via this embedded player, Yle Areena, Spotify, iTunes or your normal pod player using the RSS feed.

Audio: Yle News

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