Swedish CEOs challenge ‘unrealistic demands’ against threat of igaming becoming obsolete

A consortium of Swedish online gambling companies have ‘unanimously contested’ the Ministry of Finance’s proposals to place further restrictions on online gambling licensees.

In a joint statement issued by Swedish igaming trade body BOS, nine CEOs have called for the government to reconsider the ‘unrealistic proposals’, which are said to ‘play into the hands of the unlicensed market’.

The statement has been signed by Pontus Lindwall, CEO, Betsson AB; Henrik Tjärnström, CEO, Kindred Group; Gustaf Hagman, Group CEO, LeoVegas; Therese Hillman, VD, NetEnt AB; Ulrik Bengtsson, Group CEO, William Hill; Lahcene Merzoug, CEO, ComeOn; Alexander Stevendahl, CEO, Videoslots; Tomas Backman, CEO, Hero Gaming and Henric Andersson, CEO, SuprNation.

Proposals were submitted by the Ministry of Finance following rising concerns that the ongoing pandemic has led to a shift in player behaviours. The measures have been slammed by operators however, with data suggesting that the channelisation for online casinos will fall from an already low 75% to an even lower 52-63% if deposit limits come into force.

Suggesting an alternative to the deposit limits proposed by the Ministry of Finance, the consortium of CEOs have outlined a number of countermeasures to help promote safer gambling environments and standards. The countermeasures include:

  • Expanding licensing requirements to technology provisions,
  • The promotion of self-exclusion register Spelpaus
  • The integration of an IQ campaign,
  • Enhanced collection and sharing of player data, risk ratings, and
  • Further extending Spelinspektionen’s oversight of marketplace requirements.

According to the statement, the proposed measures submitted to the Ministry of Finance will support a deeper understanding of individual player behaviours, as well as identifying any systematic problems.

Accompanying the CEO’s joint response, BOS has published findings of an independent market research undertaken by consultancy Copenhagen Economics – headline findings state that the Swedish government risks ‘losing half the licensed online casino sector’ if its proposals are approved into law.

Analysing potential threats, Copenhagen Economics underscored that further Swedish restrictions could lead to a potential 63% drop in channelization demands, making the online casino market obsolete for all licensed incumbents.

The statement read: “Neither the Ministry of Finance nor any other stakeholder has presented facts to support the underlying assumption that gambling in general – and play on online casinos in particular – have increased during the covid-19 crisis. In its recent report to the Swedish government, the agency responsible for the Swedish gambling market also confirms it hasn’t detected increased gambling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The government is aware of the alarmingly low percentage of online casino players who now play within the licensed Swedish system. The government has also seen data from the Swedish Tax Agency that show gambling on horse races – and not online casino gambling – has increased during the coronavirus crisis.

“We share the government’s view that protection for and of players is of the utmost importance. We agree that this work must continue and that together we can create a sustainable gambling market with strong consumer protections. But the work must be based on facts.

“The Ministry of Finance has the opportunity to implement a number of fact-based measures that would improve consumer protections without damaging the important channelization. On the contrary, the channelization would benefit with these measures, which would also strengthen consumer protections.”

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