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LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group: Ardalan’s pyrrhic victory risks torpedoing Swedish gambling regulations

Zoltan Tundik

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Several markets remove covid-19 restrictions - Sweden are doing the opposite
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Open letter to Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi

Ardalan’s pyrrhic victory risks torpedoing Swedish gambling regulations

– If players leave, companies will follow suit

On January 1, 2019, new gambling regulations were introduced in Sweden. Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi spearheaded the reform, with cooperation from the opposition, resulting in broad support in the Swedish Parliament. The overall mantra was that the state should regain control of the gambling market after decades of gambling moving to companies that operated in Sweden without a license. Parliament’s preferred method of effective gambling market control is what is known as channelling, i.e. regulating what percentage of Swedish consumers choose to play with Swedish-licenced companies.

As expected, this resulted in a crossroads where companies, with the aim of maintaining a long-term business model, welcomed more insight into operations and greater control over players’ behaviour in exchange for a well-functioning and sustainable gaming market. In order to ensure responsible gaming, companies were required to implement a number of measures, such as age verification, bonus limits, limits on deposits and time played, as well as extensive processes to prevent money laundering and unhealthy gambling habits. This became a matter of importance for the 90 companies that chose to apply for a Swedish gaming license and together laid the foundation for a new Swedish gaming market that focused on strong consumer protections.

But not everyone jumped on the Ardalan train. Many companies felt there was more to gain from staying out of the system and continuing to offer games beyond the reach of taxes, controls, and other responsible gaming measures – the so-called black market.

Today, only a year later, it turns out that the “package” that the licensed companies chose to buy and sign onto has changed character completely and thus risks losing all its appeal, benefitting companies that chose to operate on the black market. We must remember that it is the customers who choose where the best product is. In a digital world, that power does not lie with the state, or with us as corporations for that matter.

We operate in a digital world and have direct access to all the relevant data needed to evaluate what measures can help strengthen our players’ safety and security while still providing attractive offers and products. The sad thing is that the government, with Ardalan Shekarabi at the forefront, does not want to talk to us about how we can work together and, with help from the insights we possess, develop a well-functioning Swedish gambling market. This became especially clear when the Minister, on April 23, proposed new emergency restrictions, proclaiming that, “The Government sees major risks in the gambling sector right now.” But the overall gambling industry (private and state) doesn’t see the same pattern at all. Instead, we see how gambling has diminished compared to what it looked like before the covid-19 crisis struck.

This week, the independent research firm Copenhagen Economics published a report describing how more and more players are choosing to spend their time with companies operating on the black market. This can be seen as nothing other than a failing grade for the government, which has completely failed to defend its own licensing system. The biggest drop was among online casinos, where approximately every fourth krona gambled goes to an unlicensed company instead of a company with a Swedish license.

Minister Shekarabi knows about this; he also has access to statistics that reveal a reduction in channelling. But for some inexplicable reason, he doesn’t seem worried that more and more players are going to the uncontrolled black market. The purpose of the re-regulation, which had broad support in the Swedish Parliament, was to create a more sustainable gambling market that functioned well in the long term. Now the minister is about to create a “Wild West 2.0” in the gambling market, and he’s doing it in the name of consumer protection. It is now clear to us that Ardalan Shekarabi does not share our ambition to create a sustainable and safe gambling market since his latest proposal is perhaps the best advertisement yet for players to abandon licensed companies in favour of the black market.

Every company, regardless of industry, wants to be where the customers are. If the customers leave, the companies will follow suit. The Swedish gambling market not only provides safety and security to players but also contributes billions annually in much-needed tax revenue and investment in sports. By slowly eroding the Swedish gaming market month by month, the government risks bringing about major cuts in security, tax revenue, and societal investment.

We can only be left to wonder why Ardalan Shekarabi wants to torpedo his own gambling regulations.

Stockholm 2020-04-30

Pontus Lindwall, CEO, Betsson AB

Henrik Tjärnström, CEO, Kindred Group

Gustaf Hagman, Group CEO, LeoVegas

Therese Hillman, CEO, NetEnt AB

Ulrik Bengtsson, Group CEO, William Hill Plc

Source: leovegas.mynewsdesk.com

Industry News

GameArt Joins Stakelogic’s Greenlogic Partner Programme

Niji Narayan

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GameArt Joins Stakelogic’s Greenlogic Partner Programme
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GameArt, the leading provider of high-quality digital gaming products, has partnered with Stakelogic to take advantage of its Greenlogic programme.

GameArt will now have access to over 500 operators worldwide through the Stakelogic developer’s partner platform, significantly boosting GameArt’s global presence and introducing their unique content to new markets.

Offering access to some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Kindred, Pokerstars, GVC and Betsson, the Greenlogic partner platform has already proven extremely popular and gained industry-wide recognition, attracting well established providers and some of the best up-and-coming studios to join its family.

“Our Greenlogic partner program has been an unparalleled success to date, and this is only emphasised by GameArt becoming the latest studio to sign on. It is our aim at Stakelogic to provide the very best gaming content available, either through our own talented in-house studio or via the impressive capabilities of independent studios who may be finding it hard to gain a foothold in such a competitive market place, or choose to fully focus on game development. GameArt is a stellar signing for Greenlogic and we look forward to working with their team for many years to come,” Stephen van den Oetelaar, CEO of Stakelogic, said.

“This is a pivotal moment in GameArt’s history and one which demonstrates the level of excellence our dedicated team have reached in the art of game development. Being able to offer our extensive library of games to even more operators across even more markets is a very exciting prospect, and one which we intend to grasp with both hands,” Stefano Picone, CEO of GameArt, said.

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1X2 Network Signs Content Deal with FSB

Niji Narayan

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1X2 Network Signs Content Deal with FSB
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1X2 Network has signed a content deal that will see its full suite of games from both 1X2gaming and Iron Dog Studio available on FSB. The partnership will offer FSB’s operator partners access to renowned titles including Pirate Kingdom Megaways, Book of Loki, and the recently launched Van Helsing’s Book of the Undead.

“FSB are a long-standing, reputable supplier and one we have worked tirelessly with to deliver a content partnership that will no doubt be a long-lasting success. The 1X2gaming and Iron Dog Studio suite of games are some of our most popular and top performing titles, and ones which will complement the great offering already available on FSB,” Jack Brown, Sales Director at 1X2 Network, said.

“As we continue to grow our content selection at FSB, it became evident that the 1X2 Network selection of slots and games was a must-have addition to our casino suite. We strive to offer the best and most varied selection of games to our ever-expanding customer base and this relationship delivers on both quality and quantity. We look forward to making sure this partnership is a great success for 1X2 Network and our operators,” Brendan Courtney, Head of Casino at FSB, said.

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777.be Announces New Campaign Featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme

Niji Narayan

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777.be Announces New Campaign Featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme
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Online sportsbook and casino operator 777.be has extended its contract with Belgian-born Hollywood actor Jean-Claude Van Damme until 2022.

A new campaign with Van Damme is scheduled for release later this week on Belgian TV, YouTube and other digital channels. It stars Van Damme as a “benevolent hero” who is on a mission to teach customers of Bet777.be a lesson about knowing their limits when betting.

“We are delighted to have Jean-Claude Van Damme on board to help us educate our players about responsible game play. Moderation is essential, and with this campaign Van Damme very effectively combines his talents and humour to get this very important message across to our players,” Jean-Christophe Choffray, Head of Gaming at 777.be, said.

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