iGB Intelligence reports iGB-Market-Monitor-May-2020-proof4 | Page 5

Executive summary Executive summary Gambling in a time of crisis The Covid-19 virus crisis has hit the online gambling sector at a particularly sensitive time. Before the lockdown, the sector was already suffering from a backlash in many regulated territories, with above-the-line advertising of gambling as the locus of the complaints. An advertising ban is already in place in Italy and Spain, while in the UK, Sweden and Denmark various forms of restriction are either being spoken about by legislators or actively pursued by regulators. The trend towards a hardening anti-gambling stance picked up pace after lockdowns were imposed across Europe from March. In Latvia, online gambling has been temporarily shuttered altogether until the lockdown is lifted and in Portugal, new legislation has been proposed that would limit access to online gambling services. In Spain, the government said that alongside the advertising ban, it would also take action against bonuses and other marketing activities while the population was being forced to stay at home. Similarly, the UK and Sweden saw the ratchet of greater regulatory control tightened even as the countries took differing approaches to tackling the virus. No letup in the UK In the UK, despite the efforts of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to take the sting out of the arguments of the critics, it has ended up in a situation where despite a voluntary ban on all gambling advertising being offered up, the antigambling lobby has continued its attacks. Notably, a letter from the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group has called for this voluntary ban to be extended to all forms of marketing and that it be made permanent. But despite the current crisis and the increasingly divisive arguments between the industry and its critics, the recent trading statements from selected UK-listed operators suggest a degree of robustness, particularly for those that are largely online gaming-focused. For those with significant sports betting exposure, it is a waiting game to see when elite sport will return. Questions over Swedish success Meanwhile, in Sweden the authorities have moved to impose deposit bonus limits while arguments rage around the levels of gambling advertising and ministers have brought up the issue of betting on lower league football games. However, a recent report commissioned by the Swedish gambling operators’ association from consultancy firm Copenhagen Economics suggests that moves by Swedish authorities to tighten up their regime are affecting the rate of channelisation of the regulated market. This is a vital area not just in relation to Sweden. Every jurisdiction that opts for a regulated online gambling regime is attempting to corral what might have previously been grey market activity into the regulated sphere. In Sweden, the authorities have made much of what they view as their 90%-plus success rate in channelling online play since the market opened in January 2019. However, the CE report poses some questions about the official figures and suggests that in online casino in particular, the rate of market capture might be much lower. In fact, it suggests that one in every four bets in that vertical goes to the offshore market. iGB Market Monitor • The UK and Sweden • May 2020 2