Sweden: iGaming CEOs contest restrictions

Executives have put forward alternative proposals to deposit limits.
Executives have put forward alternative proposals to deposit limits.

A group of nine iGaming CEOs have issued a joint statement calling for Sweden’s government to reconsider further restrictions on online gambling.

Sweden.- The iGaming trade body, BOS, has issued a joint statement signed by nine CEOs calling on the Swedish government to drop proposed restrictions that they argue could push almost half of all iGaming activity to the unlicensed market.

The statement proposes alternative measures to help promote safe gambling, ranging from enhanced data collection to expanding the regulator Spelinspektionen’s oversight of the online market.

The statement was signed by Pontus Lindwall (Betsson AB), Henrik Tjärnström (Kindred Group), Gustaf Hagman (LeoVegas), Therese Hillman (Vice Director at NetEnt AB), Ulrik Bengtsson (William Hill), Lahcene Merzoug (ComeOn), Alexander Stevendahl (Videoslots), Tomas Backman (Hero Gaming) and Henric Andersson (SuprNation).

Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has submitted proposals for further online gaming restrictions owing to concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a change in player behaviour.

The industry has heavily criticised the measures, citing independent research from the consultancy Copenhagen Economics that found that channelisation could fall from an already low 75 per cent to as low as 52-63 per cent if deposit limits were put in place.

BOS and the group of nine CEOs have instead proposed alternative measures they say will help identify any systematic problems and allow individual player behaviour to be better understood.

They have suggested expanding licensing requirements to technology provisions, promoting the self-exclusion register Spelpaus and enhancing the collection and sharing of player data and risk ratings. They also suggest extending Spelinspektionen’s mandate to oversee the online market.

The statement signed by the nine CEOs said: “The entire Swedish gambling industry has been beset by uncertainty, with many customers abandoning licensed companies and moving instead to unlicensed companies.

“If we don’t start to cooperate and introduce long-term measures grounded in facts, we risk turning back the clock to what the market looked like prior to re-regulation.”

It continued: “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 channelisation. On the contrary, the channelisation would benefit with these measures, which would also strengthen consumer protections.”

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