Members of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the Swedish Trade
Association for Online Gambling, have sent an open letter to the country's Minister of Finance Ardalan Shekarabi, urging the easing of new temporary restrictions imposed on the gambling market.
The temporary online casino restrictions, which were implemented starting June 1st, stating that players will be subjected to deposit limits and gaming operators will have less room for maneuver when it comes to offering online bonuses.
What the Open Letter Says
The letter by BOS says:
"We operate in a digital world and have direct access to all relevant data needed to evaluate what measures can help strengthen the security of our players while offering attractive products.
The sad thing is that the government, with Ardalan Shekarabi at the forefront, does not want to talk to stakeholders like us, about how we can work together and, with the support of the insight we possess, develop a well-functioning Swedish gaming market."
The trading association was also uncertain about speculations that problem gambling will be more rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online activity has actually recently dropped, according to the association.
It also noted the recent findings from the independent research firm Copenhagen Economics. The report published last May says channelization rates are still dropping. Sports betting channelization stands at 80% to 85%, while online casino is lower at 72% to 78%.
More and more players are choosing to play at companies operating on the black market. This can be seen as a proverbial face slap for the government, as it completely failed to defend its own licensing system. The biggest drop in player presence was in the online casinos - approximately every fourth Krona gambled goes to an unlicensed company instead of a company with a Swedish license.
Of course, Minister Shekarabi is fully aware of this, but for some inexplicable reason he doesn't appear to be worried at all on the fact that more and more players are turning to the uncontrolled black market to bet on sports or play slots and other online casino games.
Referring to this, the letter said the following:
"The purpose of the re-regulation, which had broad support in Parliament, was to create a more sustainable and long-term gaming market. Now the minister is about to create a ‘wild west 2.0' in the gaming market, and this is done in the name of consumer protection. For us, it is clear that Ardalan Shekarabi does not share our ambition to create a sustainable and safe gaming market as the latest proposal is the best advertisement for players to leave the licensed companies in favor of the black market."
Furthermore, BOS warned that companies could potentially leave the market if stricter regulations are being added and imposed on them every time.
"Companies, regardless of industry, want to be where the customers are; if the customers leave, the companies will follow suit.
The Swedish gaming market not only offers players security, it annually contributes billions in much needed tax revenue and investment in sports.
Month by month, the Swedish gaming market erodes and the risk that security, tax revenue and investment in society will be reduced grows. We wonder why Ardalan Shekarabi wants to undermine his own gambling regulation?"
As part of the government's new measures which began on June 1st, players residing in Sweden will be subjected to:
- Mandatory limits on casino playing time
- Weekly deposit limits of 5,000 Swedish Krona
- Online bonus limits of 100 Swedish Krona
These new rules will be in effect until at least the end of the year. Its main purpose was to mitigate potential problem gambling, which was thought to arise because of the coronavirus situation.
Signatures from iGaming operators
The open letter was signed by CEOs from twelve online gambling companies having around 50% share of the Swedish online gambling market between them including Betsson, Kindred Group, LeoVegas, NetEnt, ComeOn, Videoslots, Hero Gaming, SuprNation, William Hill, and the BOS secretary general.
Operators emphasized that they were not consulted prior to these changes. They also pointed out that they are duly cooperating with authorities to help address unregulated gambling.
BOS proposes Safe Gambling Measures
BOS has also proposed seven alternative steps that the government can take to improve the channeling rate in Sweden. These would enable the state to better monitor the gambling activities within the border and to protect the locals better from gambling risks.
The seven proposed steps by BOS and the operators are:
- Expand the licensing requirements
- IQ campaign for the gambling industry
- The data of the gambling companies should be part of the solution
- Being able to share data between companies
- Extending the Swedish Gambling Authority's mandate, and
- Extending the duty of care to more industries
As for campaigns to raise awareness for responsible gambling, they suggested that they should have additional funding for it. Players are always free to check online casino review sites to learn which are safe and trustworthy.
BOS also wants licensed operators and the government to analyze customer data, and use it to establish a risk classification system on players instead of gambling products.
They said, "The digital gambling industry collects and processes large amounts of data on customers' gambling behaviour. The Ministry of Finance should instruct the Swedish Gambling Authority to request regular reports, with anonymized data, on customers' gambling behavior to increase understanding about gambling habits and identify any systematic problems. The gambling companies have this data and already share it with researchers.
Great strides have been made in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Computers are capable of handling huge amounts of data and identifying the patterns required for increasing understanding and providing the basis for decisions. The gambling industry is also making progress in this area and sees great opportunities for improving our ability to detect and stop harmful phenomena such as problem gambling, match-fixing, and money laundering. The Ministry of Finance has a golden opportunity to initiate a strategic collaboration in this area together with authorities, researchers, the gambling industry, and gambling addiction groups."