May 20, 2010

Finland's new monopoly signs up Playtech for casino and poker

Playtech has won a supply deal with Finland’s new online casino and poker monopoly, Rahaautomaattiyhdistys (RAY).

RAY, Finland's Slot Machine Association, was in February cleared by parliament to launch online casino and poker, with Finnish state lottery Veikkaus Oy simultaneously approved to offer online bingo.

Under the terms of the four year contract, which was awarded after a tender process, RAY will launch online casino and poker using Playtech's technology platform, with poker played on an exclusive Finnish network. The online offering, planned to launch in the third quarter of this year, will also include a mobile capability.

Playtech chief executive Mor Weizer said: "By establishing a domestic online offering, RAY will be furthering its philosophy of responsible and trustworthy gaming. The unique player management tools we can provide will ensure a secure and safe operating environment in line with RAY's core values."

Finland’s monopolies have widespread support in that country, where they are often seen as more accountable than private operators, and with profit directed into state coffers rather than private hands.

Speaking at a public conference on Finland’s new gaming laws in Helsinki in February, RAY spokeswoman Tuula Lehto said that the purpose of the company’s new online business is to provide a "national, reliable and responsible alternative for Finnish players".

Founded in 1938, RAY currently has circa 19,000 slot machines in roughly 8,400 locations across Finland, together with 300 club-based casino games, and also operates Finland's only casino, the Grand Casino Helsinki. Its 2009 revenue totalled €651m.

As well as RAY and Veikkaus Oy, Finland’s other gambling monopoly is Fintoto, which offers racing betting, while Finland’s semi-autonomous Åland islands also have a gambling monopoly, Ålands Penningautomatförening, or Paf, which launched an online sports betting arm with Unibet in February.

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