Paf's island heritage
The story of Paf’s birth would make a great movie. On 1 January 1967, we started our gaming activities in cooperation the Åland Public Health Service, Save The Children, The Red Cross and a local children’s charity. All the fundraising gaming activity was collected under one roof and one Åland gaming licence.
We started modestly, with classic Pajazzo slot machines (in which players shoot coins) and two part-time employees, but in the early 70s the business took off. New game machines were bought and in 1973 Paf won the exclusive rights to run money games on board Åland-registered car ferries.
We continued growing that way until a few weeks before the new millennium. On 3 December, 1999 we launched the website www.paf.fi. We were one of the first online gaming sites and the business developed quickly. Soon we had slot machines, casino, bingo, lotteries and poker on our site. The website grew internationally and became today’s Paf.com in six languages.
Five years after the site’s launch the revenue from online games overtook the revenue from onboard gaming. In fact the huge success of Paf.com enabled us to donate more than €100 million to good causes in the first decade of the new Millennium.
The world has changed a lot since our birth fifty years ago. Now we have almost 400 employees and offices in Mariehamn, Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn, Madrid and Milan. But our head office, our licence and our roots are still in Åland. And our goal is still the same as when we started – to raise money for public good in a responsible way and have fun as we do it.
Here’s where it all started
- Paf was founded on Åland, an island in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden.
- Åland is an autonomous, demilitarized and mainly Swedish-speaking region of Finland.
- The Åland archipelago consists of approximately 6700 islands. The population is just over 28,000. The capital and only city is called Mariehamn.
- Åland was a part of the Swedish empire until 1809 when it was ceded to Russia. The Russians lost control of the islands in 1917, at which time both Sweden and Finland claimed rights over the territory. In 1921 the League of Nations ruled that Åland would be an autonomous region on Finland.
- The world's largest commercial sailing ship fleet had its home in the port of Mariehamn in the 1930s. One of the last great sail ships, The Pommern, is now a floating museum.
- In 2010 divers found over a hundred bottles of champagne from the early 1800s in a shipwreck in the Åland archipelago. The world's oldest drinkable champagne was big news all around the globe. The champagne tasted ‘...as if time had stood still.’
- And the best for last – the Åland Islands are said to enjoy, on average, the most sunshine hours in Scandinavia between May and August.