The history of Paf
1960s: Paf founded to maximize the revenue for good cause
Until 1966, the non-profit making organizations on Åland operated their own gambling and gaming machines. On 31 October 1966 we were created to bring these operations together under one official Åland gaming licence. Gaming began on 1 January 1967 in collaboration with the member associations behind our foundation - the public health service, Save The Children, The Red Cross and a child welfare foundation. Initially the business employed just two people part-time.
1970s: Paf's growth on the waves
We grew steadily but slowly at first, taking over 36 pajazzo type coin-drop gaming machines from the member associations and then purchasing new machines and branching out into skill games. In 1973 we acquired sole rights for gaming onboard Åland-registered car ferries, and our net return began to really take off. In fact between 1974 and 1999 about 95% of Paf's profit came from gaming at sea. During this time the performance of the gaming business was largely dependent on the business conditions in the shipping industry. Our profit has, from the outset, been distributed to good causes by an independent allocation board. At the end of our first 10 years, in 1976, over 10 million Finnish Marks (about €1.7m) had been distributed to good causes and the business employed 15 people.
1980s: Paf takes first international steps
We continued to grow steadily into the 1980s, gradually adding more and more ferry lines to our portfolio and establishing ourselves as the major gaming operator on the waves across the Baltic Sea. In 1980 we employed 20 people but by the end of the decade that number had quadrupled to 80. It was also a good time to expand our business internationally. In April 1985 the subsidiary Paf Consulting began its international ventures by fighting off stiff competition to win the licence for gaming onboard Viking 6 in the English Channel. During the 80s we distributed approximately a further €15m to good causes.
1990s: Paf moves into the internet age
Throughout the 1990s Paf's existing land and ship businesses continued to grow strongly so that the profit allocated to good causes rose to over €4m every year by 1999. In the 90s as a whole we distributed over €34m to good causes. Big changes were happening in the gaming world with the rapid expansion of the internet into people's daily lives. At the close of the decade, on 3 December 1999, we launched our online gaming at www.paf.fi. The first form of internet gaming available to our customers was betting. The first three years that we operated on the internet were very tough for the business but the long-term rewards were worth the initial pain.
2000s: Strong growth for Paf in all areas
Our online business expanded rapidly to include slot machines, casinos, bingo, lotteries, poker and skill games. With the growth of the internet operation our workforce quickly grew to well over 200 people. Our website became truly international, encompassing six languages. Our online business had overtaken land and ship in terms of revenue by 2005 so that on average we were able to give around €10m every year to good causes with the grand total distributed for the decade as a whole breaking through €100m.
Today: Delivering to good causes is still Paf's business
In the nearly 50 years of our history so much has changed. We started out as a small good cause operation with two part-time employees and now we are an international operation with a staff of over 300. But one thing has not changed. Our sole purpose is still to generate profit that goes to good causes. In that way when you play with Paf everybody wins…
All in a good cause
We are a gaming company established with the sole purpose of generating money for good causes. Our history is a tale worthy of a film script. Starting with just a few coin-drop arcade machines we have grown into a good cause-driven gaming company which has already given over €160m to good causes. This is our incredible story to date…