Betting is a public monopoly (Veikkaus Oy = “Betting Ltd” in English) here in Finland, so long as you ignore all of the foreign betting websites that cannot be banned here.
The position of Chairman of the Veikkaus board is a really nice job if you can get it, but unfortunately it belongs to MP’s and their mates.
The job is lovely because you really have very little to do since Finns love scratch games, Lotto, on-line poker and betting machines, which you can find in every store.
In fact their betting machines with their flashing lights are so popular that the 2 big retail groups Kesko and S-Group (84% market share of retail market) have them in all of their supermarkets and shops. They even order the shop managers to make sure that they get a good positions in the shops because they make a big contribution to the profits of the 2 groups.
Most of the people playing are pensioners and the unemployed, playing in the hope of getting some extra cash, a hopelessly sad decision given that they will always loose, but who cares when there are public sector subsidy handouts to be had… but that is another story.
In the past, there has always been some discussion about who gets the job in political circles and in the press, but this time round it looks like there has been some nasty political games going on.
The Conservatives are saying that they proposed 2 names to the Prime Minister, whose job it is to appoint the Chairman. These 2 MP’s were Mr. Kanerva and Mr. Heinonen from the Conservative Party. However, the Prime Minister made a “trump-like alternative truth statement” that he was also given Mr. Harkimo’s name by the Conservative boys, something the latter strongly deny.
Mr. Harkimo was appointed to the Chairman’s position by the PM, and then the sh..t hit the fan. The Conservative Party leaders are furious because Mr. Harkimo was not their man for the job.
There is an interesting second element to this story.
Mr. Harkimo’s ice hockey club receives an annual €200 000 sponsorship fee from Veikkaus! So not only does he benefit grandly from taxpayers’ subsidies but he will also increase his monthly pay packet with a nice annual salary and board meeting payment of over €40 000 a month that is the average salary in Finland for wage earners!
Not bad if you can get it… and what does this all mean right before the municipal elections combined with the strife within the failing True Finns?