iGB Intelligence reports iGB-Market-Monitor-May-2020-proof4 | Page 15

Part 2: Sweden –weathering the storm Help or hindrance To make matters worse, the report also suggested the rate of channelisation is deteriorating. In part, this increase in unlicensed play can be ascribed to the actions of the regulator and the government. As has been detailed extensively, the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) has intervened in the market largely via the imposition of fines for breaches of marketing regulations. The most recent was the SEK100m (£8.4m) fine levied against Kindred for offering unauthorised bonuses to players. Pointedly, the SGA said in December that it would be upping its game when it came to clamping down on unlicensed sites, which in itself would appear to be an admittance that play on these sites is on the rise. However, without any powers of enforcement or prosecution, this amounts to simply listing what it deems to be unlicensed offerings on its website and encouraging operators and suppliers not to cooperate with these entities. But hopes on the part of the licensed sector for more leeway from the authorities have been dashed by the government’s reaction to the current crisis, which has instead seen the government move to issue new guidance on both deposit limits and bonus limits for online. The minister responsible for gambling, Ardalan Shekarabi, has also indicated that the Swedish government is looking at adding new curbs on advertising, despite the reported fall in gambling ads since the current crisis took hold. He also hit the headlines in April after he called for a ban on gambling on lower league football games in Sweden. Following the publication of the Copenhagen Economics report, the chief executives of many of the leading operators in the Swedish market, including Pontus Lindwall from Betsson, Henrik Tjärnström from Kindred, Gustaf Hagman at LeoVegas, Therese Hillman of NetEnt and Ulrik Bengtsson at William Hill issued an open letter. They pointed out that “not everyone joined the Ardalan train” when the market regulated. “Many companies felt there was more to gain The online casino offering seems to have all the prerequisites to benefit from the coronavirus outbreak. We would expect a significant increase in player activity among online casino operators. Redeye analysts from staying out of the system and continuing to offer games beyond the reach of taxes, controls and other responsible gaming measures – the so-called black market,” the executives wrote. Meanwhile, the regulated market is hobbled in its attempts to compete after “the package” – i.e., regulations and taxes in return for legitimacy and the ability to advertise – has “changed completely”. The executives warned that the Swedish authorities are in danger of losing sight of a central tenet of online. “We must remember that it is the customers who choose where the best product is,” they warn. “In a digital world, that power does not lie with the state, or with us as corporations for that matter.” Talking specifically about the findings from the CE report regarding channelisation rates, the letter suggested this represents a “failing grade” for the regulator. The letter noted that the “biggest drop” was online casino, where according to the CE estimates, up to one in every four krona spent goes to offshore sites. Availability and attractiveness This is not surprising given the report’s findings. It looked at the likely success of offshore offerings through the prism of five attributes: availability, similarities, ease of entry, attractiveness and consumer willingness. In all but the last, the report found the strength of each of these aspects to be high for online casino. “We find that licensed casino sites face a high degree of competition from unlicensed casino sites, primarily because they are similar iGB Market Monitor • The UK and Sweden • May 2020 12