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EGBA: Swedish Government Risks Driving Online Gambling into the Black Market

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The Gambling Market Inquiry, established to consider additional measures to those set out in Sweden’s Gambling Act which re-regulated the country’s online gambling market in 2019, has presented its long-anticipated report to the Ministry of Social Security.

The report proposes, among other things, further restrictions and limitations for Sweden’s licensed online gambling companies, including a new customer risk classification and additional marketing restrictions.

While there are proposals in the report which are welcome, including the introduction of gaming supplier licenses for game developers and suppliers, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is concerned that the frequency and scope of regulatory changes in Sweden jeopardises the overall success of the country’s online gambling regulation and its ability to provide Swedes with a safe, attractive and regulated online environment where they can bet.

EGBA supports well-regulated online gambling markets but the constant proposals to change Sweden’s regulation, which was established less than two years ago, is creating policy instability for the country’s licensed companies. EGBA has previously outlined its concerns about the government’s introduction of temporary deposit limits for online casino in Q2 this year, which are now set to be prolonged until next summer. Generically imposed deposit limits, despite being well-intentioned, encourage many customers, including those experiencing problematic gambling behaviour, to exit the regulated market and play on black market websites which allow them to circumvent the limits.

The risks to consumer protection from black market gambling are very real, particularly for vulnerable customers: these websites are readily available, easy to access and do not apply any limits or responsible gambling measures, e.g. self-exclusion registers such as Sweden’s Spelpaus scheme. According to a recent study, 40% of Sweden’s online casino customers, and 34% of sports betting customers, already gamble on unlicensed and black market websites or would consider doing so in future. Given the risk of black market gambling, EGBA, therefore, encourages Swedish policy makers to consider the need for a delicate regulatory balance and the potential cause and effects of further restrictions on the licensed and regulated market in Sweden.

“EGBA members, including BOS, accept their shared responsibility to protect customers, and we are continuously considering what we can do more, but, fundamentally, the best way to protect customers is to ensure they play inside the regulated market with companies who are licensed in and apply the consumer protection laws in Sweden. The cumulative effect of more restrictions on the Swedish market will be less channelling and more unregulated black market gambling. Despite being well-intentioned, this would be clearly counter-productive and will damage the safety of the consumer,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of EGBA, said.

 

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BGC Grand National Charity Bet Campaign Raises Thousands for Good Causes Across the Country

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The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has raised over £15,000 for good causes as part of its annual Grand National charity betting initiative.

Over 50 parliamentarians placed a charity bet on Saturday’s Grand National, with the UK’s biggest betting operators handing over all winnings to the MP’s charity of choice.

The eventual winner was 7/1 favourite I am Maximus, ridden by Paul Townend, owned by JP McManus and trained by the legendary Willie Mullins. The Grand National win for a Mullins trained horse comes nine years after Hedge Hunter romped home in 2015.

The parliamentarians who backed the winner were Christian Wakeford MP, Maria Caulfield MP, Justin Tomlinson MP, Greg Smith MP, Peter Aldous MP, Preet Gill MP and Liam Kerr MSP.

While Bob Blackman MP had a winner with an each way bet by backing Ain’t That A Shame which came in sixth.

Some of the winning good causes included Sir Jackie Stewart’s Race for Dementia, Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare and The Fed – social care charity for the Greater Manchester Jewish Community.

Other MPs who took part included Sir Alok Sharma, Dame Caroline Nokes and Scotland Minister John Lamont.

Shadow Gambling Minister Stephanie Peacock MP also took part alongside Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP.

During visits, MPs heard from staff about the range of safer gambling measures available to customers in bookmakers.

However, every nominated charity will receive at least £250 after BGC members including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Paddy Power and Betfred pledged to support charities even if MPs horses didn’t win.

These donations, combined with the winners, raised a total of £15,115.

BGC members – large and small – have raised more than £6 million for good causes since its formation in 2019.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “600 million people from all over the world tuned in to watch one of the best Grand Nationals ever, including millions in the UK on ITV. An estimated 12 million people in the UK – roughly a third of adults – enjoyed a bet on the National showing once again that for millions of us having a flutter is part of our great British culture.

“I want to pay tribute to all the thousands of people who work in betting shops to help support hard-pressed high streets and local economies. I would like to thank all those MPs who took part for supporting so many fantastic good causes and for taking the time to visit constituents working in betting shops. We had more MPs than ever before, from right across the political divide, ministers and shadow ministers, supporting the BGC and supporting the Grand National. I would like to thank all of our members for once again supporting the initiative.”

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Baltics

New Survey Reveals 80% of Lithuanians Would Welcome a Ban on Gambling Ads

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Eight out of 10 Lithuanians would approve of a ban on gambling ads in the country, a new survey revealed.

The survey commissioned by public broadcaster LRT was carried out by the public opinion and market research company Baltijos tyrimai. It showed that 80% of respondents aged 18 years and over are in favour of a complete ban on gambling ads in Lithuania and just 15% would oppose the move.

It has transpired that approval of the gambling ad ban was greater among women than men – 86% against 72% respectively. The move has also wide support among residents aged over 50 (84%) and by people with greater than secondary education and with monthly household income of up to EUR 1100 (85%). Opponents of the ban often include men (21%), young people under 30 years of age (23%), rural residents (18%) and people with unfinished secondary education (30%). 1115 adult residents of Lithuania were polled on 15-25 March.

In mid-March, parliament began to consider amendments to the law on gambling, which, if adopted, would prohibit gambling advertisements as of 1 January 2025.

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Australia

SkyCity Appoints Jason Walbridge as Chief Executive Officer

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SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited has appointed Jason Walbridge as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Jason has more than two decades of senior executive public company experience in the global land-based and online gaming industries. He is currently a Strategic Advisor to global gaming and technology company Aristocrat Leisure Limited on its proposed acquisition of NeoGames S.A, and Executive Chairman of National Entertainment Network LLC, the largest amusement route operator in the US. He has been appointed to the role after an extensive international search.

SkyCity Board Chair Julian Cook said: “The Board is delighted to announce Jason’s appointment as CEO of SkyCity, and we are looking forward to the valuable contribution Jason will make to the business. Jason has extensive global experience in the land-based and online gaming industries, which will position him well to lead SkyCity through its next phases.”

Mr Walbridge said: “It will be a privilege to lead SkyCity, and I am excited to be joining the business at this time as SkyCity looks to pursue the many opportunities ahead of it.”

Mr Walbridge is expected to start in early July 2024, following his move back to New Zealand.

Prior to his current roles, Mr Walbridge held roles with the online gaming supplier NYX Gaming Group Limited and its acquirer Light & Wonder Inc, and before that he spent 18 years with Aristocrat Leisure Limited where he held executive leadership roles in New Zealand and the US. Previously, he held senior roles within consulting, including with Ernst & Young, and was an Officer in the New Zealand Defence Force. Mr Walbridge holds an MBA in International Management from the Auckland Institute of Studies.

Mr Cook confirmed that Callum Mallett will continue as Interim Chief Executive Officer until Mr Walbridge’s commencement date.

“I’d like to thank Callum for his continued leadership and his support during this period,” Mr Cook said.

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