LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes

Despite a series of regulatory changes across its core markets, LeoVegas AB has praised its ‘continued solid growth and profitability during a period of exceptional circumstances’ as it published its Q2 2020 results (period ending 30 June).

The Stockholm-listed online gambling group noted that ‘the effects related to COVID-19 are judged overall to have had a positive impact on NGR during April and May’, having increased by 17% to €110.7 million from €94.4 million in Q2 2019.

Operating profit reached €16.3 million, up from €8.5 million last year. Meanwhile, EBITDA also increased by 52.3% from €15.1 million to €23 million.

Gustaf Hagman, President and CEO of LeoVegas, said: “We had favourable development in most of our markets during the second quarter. Growth has been driven primarily by a record-large depositing customer base, which grew 24% compared with a year ago. The Rest of Europe region experienced exceptionally high growth, with Italy posting record-strong performance.

“The effects related to COVID-19 are judged overall to have had a positive impact on NGR during April and May, mainly in the markets that were entirely shut down during the period. In these markets, LeoVegas has taken market shares from the land-based gambling industry.”

The number of depositing customers also increased by 24%, up from 350,298 in 2019 to 434,453.

In its trading outlook, LeoVegas drew attention to the temporary restrictions on online gaming that have been sanctioned across a number of European countries to reduce the risk of problem gambling during the pandemic.

Of utmost concern, LeoVegas addressed the recent controversial deposit limits imposed by the Swedish government, emphasising that such restrictions – which it stated were ‘implemented entirely without supporting factual data’ – have had a negative impact on both revenues and player protection.

Hagman added: “During the quarter, several countries implemented measures to reduce the risk for problem gaming in connection with COVID-19. Spain, for example, introduced a temporary ban on gambling advertising. On top of these restrictions, LeoVegas has chosen to implement its own proactive measures to strengthen player protection.

“Most of the temporary restrictions throughout Europe ended in June, and Spain and the UK, among other countries, have reverted to normal regulations once their respective societies opened up again.

“It is therefore remarkable that Sweden, despite massive criticism from most areas, has moved in the opposite direction and introduced new, temporary restrictions, effective 2 July, focused particularly on online casino. There is a large risk that these restrictions, implemented entirely without supporting factual data, are undermining the Swedish regulation system and driving players to companies without Swedish licences, where player protection is nonexistent. These restrictions therefore risk being counterproductive and instead contribute to an increase in problem gaming in Sweden.

“We advocate for balanced and clear regulations for achieving long-term sustainable licensing systems. LeoVegas wants to contribute to this through a broader dialogue and collaboration with the authorities in the countries we are active in.”

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