Martin Lycka: The Gambling Prince of Sweden

GVC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Martin Lycka offers a dramatic twist on the Swedish licensing process, in which operators may not get the curtain call they’ve been looking for.

Act I – A Truly Glorious Day

January 1, 2019. A momentous day in Swedish gambling history. The online gambling market opens. A fanfare sounds. The curtain goes up. Licensed operators enter; a whole throng of them.

What’s the market like? It’s been good all the while. The Swedes love poker; the Swedes love sport. And how about the regulation? It’s like Denmark with a lower tax rate, the positivists proclaim. Beware of the extra restrictions, the naysayers retort.

And what about guidance? What can we offer? How can we bonus? No, there ain’t much, not much at all. Yet, let’s give it a go. Though this be madness, there may still be method in’t.

Act II – They Are Minors

Spring/summer 2019. Repent for your sins. More than half of them were under 18 in that game. Hefty fines on their way. Walk the line or risk losing your licences. Thou shalt not expose minors to the risk of manipulation.

Where’s the line? What’s the rule? 50 per cent plus one? What if there’s a late substitution? How can we know? To offer, or not to offer, that is the question. Under-19 games go; under-21 games go. What’s next?

Coco takes them out one after another. She’s only 15. If up against another minor, the rule is clear. How about a more senior player? How does that work? And what if she makes it to the final? Do we ditch it? If we ditch it, who will take over? It’s Wimbledon, for Christ’s sake … okay, she’s out. Back to normal.

Act III – The Third Division and Below

Spring 2020. These pesky lower football leagues. They’re a risk, aren’t they? You can watch, you can play but you mustn’t bet. They are out of bounds. Take the markets down; forget about them.

Seriously? There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your integrity philosophy. What will happen if we let them go? Who will keep an eye on the proceedings in our stead? The black market operators? Not in a million years.

That’s what they’ve been waiting for. Why give them a chance? Let us help you. Let us convince you that our tech can stop this.

Act IV – What 90 Per Cent?

Later the same spring. Is there something rotten in the state of this market? 90 per cent was the goal. Yet, the number is more like 81, perhaps 85. Some even say 72 when it comes to casino. What’s caused the undershooting?

Lack of guidance. Fines, fines, fines. Shall we stay or shall we go? Is there a point in negotiating? Or does that one smile and smile, but is still a villain? And, if we can’t talk, do we go to court?

Then comes the announcement: no ban, no suspension, no restrictions right now but, mind you, they are coming. Oh yeah, they are coming and will be here to stay.

Act V – COVID Calling

COVID times. 5000 SEK limits on all deposits. Loss limit for slots. 100 SEK bonuses. From June onwards, get ready. Until the end of 2020. Get cracking, dearest licensees.

“Though we are native here and to the manner born, comprehend this we can’t,” rally CEOs in their cry. What’s the rationale behind this? What will be the impact? Are you selling us down the river to the unlicensed ones? This needs changing; or the percentages will plummet further. Is this COVID necessitated? Or is it something else?

Correction: not June, but July. Casino deposits and bonuses only. What do you reckon? Any better? You’ve still got your sports betting, eh? Let me know in writing and we shall take it from there. No, the end date hasn’t changed. End of the year it is. Beyond that? No clue yet. (For now) the rest is silence.

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