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How liberal will the Swedish gambling market really be?

Zoltan Tundik

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Since the plans for liberalization and licensing were announced, casino marketing has become a huge public issue in Sweden. That’s not surprising. In a country that has sought to police public morality so tightly, for so long, some pushback is to be expected.

In February 2019, the government made a strong statement, warning operators against adopting “aggressive” marketing strategies to capture market share in the fledgling market.

Concerns have regularly been raised in the Swedish media regarding safeguards for problem gamblers and younger people, as well as the general promotion of casinos as legitimate businesses. It’s a cultural challenge for the companies as well as Swedish society, so which way will the market go?

Casino marketing: what does the law say?

What we know right now is that the regulations introduced in late 2018 to put online gambling on a firmer footing say relatively little about marketing methods.

Instead, they focus on taxation, age limits, and the licensing process. The focus is more on creating “safe spaces” for gambling, rather than telling operators how to promote their businesses.

So, there will be quite tight limitations on the welcome bonuses available from licensed operators (Spelinspektionen.se – last update 2019-01-31), as well as the types of bonuses and deals available to regular customers. The idea is that casinos elsewhere have sometimes taken these promotions too far, giving players an unrealistic sense of potential winnings, while exploiting vulnerable people.

But this leaves out a large chunk of online casino marketing, as well as member benefits like sports tickets. So while bonuses are going to be restricted, expect to see plenty of creative promotional ideas emerging to compensate.

What about advertising? Has Sweden got the balance right?

Most importantly, the new regulations are a bit unclear about the role of advertising. And with bonuses taking a back seat, this could mean that casino operators will leverage ads in greater occurrence instead.

This could lead to an epidemic of glitzy, visually seductive ads, targeting the impulses of potential customers. But things could be more laid back as well.

Remember, the Swedish casino regulations stipulate harsh fines for breaching license guidelines, sometimes reaching as much as 10% of a company’s turnover. That’s pretty uncommon elsewhere in the gambling world, and we can’t be sure how it will affect the way casinos operate.

So the future is unclear. Sweden could head towards a zero advertising model (similar to Italy), or relax its attitude towards marketing (as with the UK). But the smart money is on a slow liberalization of the way casinos are promoted.

Sweden is lukewarm about gambling, but the direction of travel is clear: It’s a market Stockholm wants to encourage, and advertising is a key part of the picture.

Licensed online casino operators in Sweden

2 months have passed since the re-regulation of the market and so far, 69 companies have been granted a Swedish casino license. It’s a mix of old companies such as Betsson and Unibet and new sites, such as the Swedish casino Dreamz, that was granted a license at the end of 2018.

When speaking to the people at Dreamz.com regarding this huge change on the Swedish market they saw it as s positive development for both the casino industry in general and for Swedes and Sweden as a country.

Many of us at Dreamz have been in the casino business for over 10 years, and we believe this is what industry needs. Serious and legitimate companies will benefit alongside Sweden as a country, while operators that cannot deliver what is required to uphold the license requirement will disappear from the market. For one thing, responsible gambling is an issue that some companies need to make a better effort in, and as from 1 January 2019, this is a topic that will be of the highest priority and under the supervision of the Swedish gambling Authority, which is great for all parties.

 

 

 

After starting out as an affiliate in 2009 and developing some recognized review portals, I have moved deeper into journalism and media. My experience has lead me to move into the B2B sector and write about compliance updates and report around the happenings of the online and land based gaming sector.

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Mercedes-Benz launches a Russia-based esports campaign together with Publicis Sport & Entertainment and ESforce Holding

Vlad Poptamas

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A premium automotive brand Mercedes-Benz announced the start of the Most Valuable Fan campaign aimed at Russian esports fans. As part of the campaign, a national fan competition will take place throughout August, September and October, culminating at a special event in Moscow during ESL One Hamburg 2019 playoffs. Following the outcome of the vote among the esports community and members of the jury, the chosen fan will receive the title of the Most Valuable Fan and a Mercedes-Benz A-Сlass vehicle.

This partnership between Mercedes-Benz, Publicis Sport & Entertainment, and ESforce holding is a continuation of the brand’s devotion to creating unforgettable experiences for both fans and the players. In 2016, Mercedes-Benz became a partner of ESL, founding the Most Valuable Player campaign taking place for the second consecutive year. As per 2019, viewers and members of the expert community have helped award the best ESL tournaments players with 5 automobiles worth a total of €250 000. Virtus.pro (a member of ESforce holding) players have won this award three times: Alexei Solo Berezin was the MVP of ESL One Hamburg 2017, Vladimir RodjER Nikogosyan and Vladimir No[o]ne Minenko became MVPs of ESL One Katowice and ESL One Birmingham in 2018.

“The Russian esports community is among the most engaged and active communities in the world, — says Mercedes-Benz Press Office. — However, the fans’ devotion to their favorite disciplines, teams or tournaments is rarely rewarded. We want to say “thank you” to all the fans who travel long hours to visit their favorite tournaments, meet their favorite teams in airports, prepare banners and touching gifts for their idols, share their hobby with their friends and do everything in their power to help esports grow. We hope that the Most Valuable Fan campaign will help elevate esports fan culture to a new level. We are happy to begin our first esports partnership in Russia with the fans themselves!”

To enter the raffle, one needs to register at http://mbmvf.cybersport.ru website, record a video of 5 minutes or less in which fans would talk about their experience supporting esports, fill in a form, and pass moderation. All citizens of Russia who are 18 or older and have a driver’s license may take part in the contest. With support the fan community and esports celebrity jury consisting of renowned journalists, casters, and fans, the brand will choose three finalists. They will then receive a ticket to the event’s grand finale — a closed award ceremony in Moscow. The event will take place in Yota Arena during ESL One Hamburg 2019 final stage.

“We consider this one of the most important esports projects of the year, its importance for the gaming community and the market as a whole is undeniable. We are certain this campaign will gain a lot of traction on the international market, even though it is being implemented on the territory of Russia. Mercedes expands the horizons and pushes esports to a whole new level. We are happy to be a part of this project. Let the best fan win!” — says Sergey Barkhudaryan, Head of Publicis Sport & Entertainment.

“Mercedes-Benz arrival to the Russian esports market is a clear signal for the community and the industry as a whole. The “Most Valuable Fan” project shows how involved Russian esports audience is on the international level, how much its activity and engagement into their idols’ life is evident on the worldwide scale. We are happy to partner with Mercedes, and we are sure that it is just one step further in a series of large-scale campaigns to reward the fans for their passion for esports, loyalty and compassion to their favorite teams and tournaments,” — says Alexander Kim, ESforce Holding Commercial Director.

More details at http://mbmvf.cybersport.ru.

 

Mercedes-Benz Russia AO is a Russian company, a subsidiary of Daimler Group. Daimler AG (Daimler-Benz AG in 1994) was the first foreign automotive company to establish a subsidiary AOZT Mercedes-Benz Avtomobili in the territory of the Russian Federation on December 8, 1994. Mercedes-Benz Russia AO is the only official importer of Mercedes-Benz cars and vans, as well as smart cars in Russia.

In 2013 the company launched production of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Classic vans at the GAZ plant in Nizhny Novgorod, as well as diesel engines for them in Yaroslavl. In 2018 the company became the leader in the automotive premium segment in Russia for the sixth time running. On April, 3 2019 the gala opening of the production plant for Mercedes-Benz cars in the Moscow region took place.

2019 is an anniversary year for Mercedes-Benz: the brand celebrates 125 years long brand history in Russia.

Publicis Sport & Entertainment is the sports marketing division of Publicis Groupe, headquartered in London. Unit provides clients with full-service support of the whole Groupe but specializing in the sports industry: from strategy and creativity to media, sponsorship of sports events and licensing. Unit operates in all major international markets and provides its services to major global brands: P&G, Mercedes, Heineken, Samsung, Mondelez, Gazprom Neft, Coty, Duracell, EA, etc. As well as sport right holders: FIFA, NBA, Zenit, Russian Premier League, IOC, etc.

ESforce Holding is one of the world’s largest esports organizations and the leader of electronic sports in Russia. The holding company integrates all key areas of the esports business, from organizing international tournaments and professional content creation to publishing and advertising activities. ESforce owns over 220 popular online resources with a combined audience of 12 million followers and 114 million annual unique visitors, which provide a 90-percent reach to esports broadcast viewers in Russia and the CIS as well as access to a significant share of relevant international audiences. In 2018, the holding became part of the largest technology company in Russia, Mail.Ru Group.

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Sasebo Chamber of Commerce Confirms Speakers for August 27th Seminar

Vlad Poptamas

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The Sasebo Chamber of Commerce / Nagasaki Marine IR Promotion Council have confirmed speakers for their seminar to be held on 27 August (Tuesday) at the Fuji International Hotel located in Sasebo City. Speakers will include Mr. Brendan Bussmann of Global Market Advisors, Dr. Glenn McCartney of the University of Macau and the Irish and European Chambers of Commerce (Macau), and Mr. Niall Murray, President of the Irish Chamber of Commerce (Macau). The seminar is expected to attract between 50 and 100 participants including local businesses from throughout Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture and the Greater Kyushu Region. Presentations will include overviews on how the private sector should begin to formulate engagement plans with IR operators, as well as best practices with regards to how other Chambers of Commerce engage with both IR operators and the local business communities.

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Rivers Casino Waukegan Proposed by State’s Most Successful Casino Owners

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: chicagobusiness.com
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The developer, operator and owners of the state’s most successful casino, Rivers Casino Des Plaines, which earns more than twice as much gaming revenue as any other casino in the state, are teaming up to propose building a 1,625-gaming-seat Rivers Casino Waukegan. Rivers Casino Waukegan expects to create over 1,200 permanent jobs; 900 union construction jobs and pump over $150 million annually into the local Waukegan and Lake County economy.

Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) (Nasdaq: CHDN) and Rush Street Gaming, which jointly own Rivers Casino Des Plaines, would bring their combined expertise as developers and operators of some of the most successful gambling and entertainment venues in the country to Waukegan at the Fountain Square site at Lakehurst and Northpoint Boulevard. The companies say their proven marketing and customer service approach will attract high-end patrons to Waukegan.

Rush Street, the creator of the Rivers Casino brand, is the leading developer of world-class regional casinos in Des Plaines, New York state, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In addition to its premier position in Illinois, Rivers is the market leader in the Capital Region of New York state as well as in Pittsburgh.

CDI is an industry-leading racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by its flagship event – The Kentucky Derby. The company owns and operates 10 regional gaming facilities in eight states, as well as Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights.

Opening a second Rivers-branded casino in Waukegan creates a synergy in the market. Rivers, with a premier reputation among its customers, would bring Illinois’ leading gaming brand and proven record to Waukegan, delivering a tremendous benefit to the city that no other applicant can offer.

Other benefits and highlights of the proposal to bring Rivers Casino to Waukegan are:

  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines is the most successful casino in Illinois and hosted 2.9 million admissions in 2018. Its extensive patron database will help to attract players from throughout the region to Rivers Casino Waukegan, complementing—rather than cannibalizing—current local video gaming operators.
  • Rush Street Interactive, recognized by industry publisher EGR (e-gaming review) as Mobile Operator of the Year for North America, will operate in-casino and online sports betting for the proposed showplace. Affiliates of Rush Street operate the most successful sports books in Pennsylvania and New York.
  • The casino would feature Luxbar, an upscale gastropub, the first Gibsons Restaurant Group restaurant in Lake County.
  • The casino would have 1,625 proposed gaming seats, including a poker room, at the opening with the flexibility to add more.
  • CDI and Rush Street are offering to purchase or lease the city-owned Fountain Square property.
  • Rivers Casino Waukegan will make annual contributions to charities in Waukegan, Park City and North Chicago.
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines is the first and only casino in Illinois to comply with a statutory minority- and women-ownership requirement. Rivers Casino Waukegan will use that experience to build strong minority- and women-ownership participation for the new venture. Rush Street also encourages diversity in its ranks, with 46 percent of employees and 28 percent of executives being persons of color.

“We’re happy to be considered to develop and operate what we know will be a leading entertainment destination for the City of Waukegan, Lake County and the State of Illinois,” said Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin. “It would be an honor to bring the Rivers brand and experience to Waukegan.”

“We are especially proud of our long history of hiring local people and vendors in every market where we have invested. Rush Street spends more than $23 million dollars annually on firms owned by women and minorities,” said Rush Street Gaming Chairman Neil Bluhm. “We’re especially proud of our diverse workforce and the career opportunities we have provided our associates.”

“Waukegan and Lake County deserve a world-class facility and together, with our partner Churchill Downs Incorporated, that is exactly what we will develop,” said Bluhm. “We look forward to sharing more about our proposal with city leaders.”

“Churchill Downs Incorporated has a 145-year track record of offering unmatched premium entertainment experiences for horse racing fans and significant expertise developing premier casino venues for our patrons throughout the United States,” said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. “We are proud to partner with Rush Street Gaming to bring our shared vision for a world-class entertainment destination to Waukegan.”

About Rush Street Gaming
Founded by Neil Bluhm and Greg Carlin, Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, have developed and operate successful casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Des Plaines, Illinois (Chicago area) and Schenectady, New York.  Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates has become one of the leading casino developers in the United States and operators of online casinos and sports books. Additional information at: www.rushstreetgaming.com

About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) (Nasdaq: CHDN), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is an industry-leading racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event – The Kentucky Derby. We own and operate Derby City Gaming, a historical racing machine facility in Louisville. We also own and operate the largest online horseracing wagering platform in the U.S., TwinSpires.com, and are a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with approximately 11,000 slot machines / video lottery terminals and 200 table games in eight states. We also operate sports wagering and iGaming through our BetAmerica platform in multiple states. Additional information about CDI can be found online at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

Information set forth in this news release contains various “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”), which provides certain “safe harbor” provisions. All forward-looking statements made in this presentation are made pursuant to the Act. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” and similar words, although some forward-looking statements are expressed differently.

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include the following: the effect of economic conditions on our consumers’ confidence and discretionary spending or our access to credit; additional or increased taxes and fees; public perceptions or lack of confidence in the integrity of our business; loss of key or highly skilled personnel; restrictions in our debt facilities limiting our flexibility to operate our business; general risks related to real estate ownership, including fluctuations in market values and environmental regulations; catastrophic events and system failures disrupting our operations; online security risk, including cyber-security breaches; inability to recover under our insurance policies for damages sustained at our properties in the event of inclement weather and casualty events; increases in insurance costs and inability to obtain similar insurance coverage in the future; inability to identify and complete acquisition, expansion or divestiture projects, on time, on budget or as planned; difficulty in integrating recent or future acquisitions into our operations; number of people attending and wagering on live horse races; inability to respond to rapid technological changes in a timely manner; inadvertent infringement of the intellectual property of others; inability to protect our own intellectual property rights; payment-related risks, such as risk associated with fraudulent credit card and debit card use; compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or applicable money-laundering regulations; work stoppages and labor issues; difficulty in attracting a sufficient number of horses and trainers for full field horseraces; inability to negotiate agreements with industry constituents, including horsemen and other racetracks; personal injury litigation related to injuries occurring at our racetracks; our inability to utilize and provide totalisator services; weather conditions affecting our ability to conduct live racing; increased competition in the horseracing business; changes in the regulatory environment of our racing operations; changes in regulatory environment of our online horseracing business; increase in competition in our online horseracing; uncertainty and changes in the legal landscape relating to our online wagering business; legalization of online sports betting and iGaming in the United States and our ability to predict and capitalize on any such legalization; inability to expand our sports betting operations and effectively compete; failure to comply with laws requiring us to block access to certain individuals could result in penalties or impairment with respect to our mobile and online wagering products; increased competition in our casino business; changes in regulatory environment of our casino business; costs, delays, and other uncertainties relating to the  development and expansion of casinos; and concentration and evolution of slot machine manufacturing and other technology conditions that could impose additional costs.

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