BOS is gathering more gambling operators to sign the petition aiming at rejecting Shekarabi’s proposed restrictive measures in Sweden. Meanwhile, the Swedish Patent & Market Court has rejected Mr Green’s appeal for a fine of $240,000.
Swedish Operators Disapprove of Restrictive Measures
Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi’s restrictive measures were met with disapproval by major operators on the Swedish market. CEOs of William Hill, Kindred Group, LeoVegas, NetEnt and Betsson all shared the same opinion – such regulations can push the Swedish players towards the unlicensed market. With consumers gone, this would inevitably lead to the companies stepping back from the market. The operators addressed their concerns in an open letter and a petition which was organized by Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS) which is the country’s operator association.
Back in April, Shekarabi proposed restrictive measures for the Swedish gambling market. Under the pretext that many people may develop or precipitate bad gambling habits amid the COVID-19 lockdown, a proposal was made to apply deposit limits as well as session time limits for Swedish players.
The measures, up for discussion until May 7, are planned to be implemented as of June 1. This has risen yet another concern as to what would be the purpose to apply restrictions after such a long period, considering that the novel coronavirus might come to an end by that time.
Half of the Swedish Online Gambling Market Joins the Petition
Following last week’s petition, more operators are joining the cause now. CEOs of Betway, Anthony Werkman, Henric Andersson of Suprnation, Tomas Bäckman of HeroGaming, Shelly Suter-Hadad of Casumo have now signed the BOS petition. They were also joined by Lahcene Merzoug of ComeOn Group, Alexander Stevendahl of Videoslots as well as Daniel Lindberg of Quickspin.
The operator association secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt commented on the subject that according to his estimation, the CEO’s that signed the petition so far represent nearly half of the Swedish gambling online market. He said: “It is crucial for the success of the licensing system and the safeguarding of costumer protection that Mr Shekarabi withdraws his additional measures towards the locally licensed operators“.
Hoffstedt stressed out that: “The licensing system is fragile and can’t endure further attacks from the Minister. He must do the opposite and safeguard the licensing system in the name of costumer protection.”
Further to the concern that Hoffstedt’s expressed, the operator association (BOS) is now trying to get all of Sweden’s operators aboard to sign the petition regardless if they are members or not.
Mr Green’s Penalty of $240,000 and the Troubling Report by Copenhagen Economics
Amid the burning discussion regarding the restrictive measures, a ruling by the Swedish Patent & Market Court showed just how ruthless institutions can be. The Swedish Consumer Agency (KO) issued a penalty of $240,000 in November 2019 aimed at Mr Green, which is the Swedish licensed brand of William Hill. This was because Mr Green was accused of sending promotional e-mails to users which have already entered the self-exclusion program “Spelpaus”.
Mr Green disagreed and went to appeal, while pointing out that the company wasn’t given enough time to check if a player’s name was on the list. Once they knew, Mr Green took as little as 10 hours to implement the changes in their mailing list, thus complying with Spelpaus. Mr Green stressed that the fine was quite excessive and considering their lightning reaction, a fine of $5,000 would seem more appropriate.
The appeal however was rejected last week under the pretext that Mr Green had to take timely action, considering the Spelpaus but the court also pointed that the company’s turnover per annum won’t suffer that much from such an amount.
But that’s not all. Turning our eyes to a report by Copenhagen Economics it looks like the CEO’s and Hoffstedt’s concerns are not unjustified. The report notes that approximate of 15%-20% of sports betting as well as 22%-28% of online casino gambling falls in the unregulated market. Based on those numbers, it looks like despite the efforts of the Swedish government in terms of channelization, the unregulated market receives every forth Swedish krona that is spent for online gambling activities. Looking at the facts so far, if one had to guess it looks like the restrictive measures could do more harm than good to the already shaken Swedish market.