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The Protest Against Shekarabi’S Measures Is Growing – More Than Half The Swedish Online Gaming Market Is Supporting It

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Source: BOS (The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling) 2020-05-05

Five CEOs for gambling companies with a Swedish license signed April 30 a petition to Minister Ardalan Shekarabi. The CEOs warned the Minister about the increasingly low channelization on the Swedish gambling market, especially on the gambling vertical online casino. Every fourth Swedish krona is lost to the unlicensed market when it comes to online casino.

The CEOs also warned Mr. Shekarabi that further measures aimed at Swedish licensed operators will accelerate the costumer escape from the licensing system. The CEOs urged the Minister to change strategy and protect the Swedish licensing system. A high channelization into the licensing system is necessary for a high costumer protection, the CEOs advocated. Furthermore, the licensed operators contribute with large sums of tax. Their contribution to Sweden last year was 3,6 billion Swedish krona. The unlicensed operator’s contribution was zero.

At this moment an additional seven CEOs have joined and signed the petition. In total twelve CEOs have now signed.

– My estimation is that the twelve gambling CEOs represent approximately half of the Swedish online gambling market. 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. 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, says Gustaf Hoffstedt Secretary General for the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS).

– From our perspective as a trade body for the industry we now open up and invite all CEOs for gambling companies to sign the petition, being a member of us or not. Our only demand is that the company stands by the petition and if it is a B2C company that it holds a Swedish gambling license, Hoffstedt concludes.

Open letter to Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi

“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 costumers 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 costumers are. If the costumers 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
Lahcene Merzoug, CEO, ComeOn Group
Henric Andersson,CEO, Suprnation
Tomas Bäckman,CEO, Hero Gaming
Alexander Stevendahl,CEO, Videoslots Ltd
Daniel Lindberg,CEO, Quickspin
Shelly Suter-Hadad, CEO, Casumo
Anthony Werkman, CEO, Betway Ltd

Industry News

European Volleyball Confederation Selects Genius Sports as its Official Technology Partner

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The European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) has entered into a long-term technology and integrity partnership with Genius Sports Limited.

As part of the deal, all major men’s and women’s CEV competitions across indoor, beach and snow volleyball will be powered by Genius Sports’ leading suite of scoring, coaching and competition management solutions to drive the sport’s digital transformation.

e-Scoresheet, the preeminent live scoring solution in world volleyball for over a decade, has now been specifically developed for beach and snow, providing CEV with consistent and official match scoresheets across dozens of competitions such as CEV EuroBeachVolley, the CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Tour, and the CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour.

CEV fans, statisticians, coaches, administrators and members will benefit from Genius Sports’ leading data-driven solutions, streamlining key processes such as delivering real-time statistics to fans, digitally managing competitions and allocating referees to matches.

As the trusted integrity partner to the National Football League, English Premier League and Euroleague Basketball, Genius Sports will also help to preserve the transparency and fairness of European Volleyball from betting-related corruption. Its Bet Monitoring System will analyse 24/7 betting activity on all CEV competitions, cross-referencing real-time odds movements with predictive algorithms to automatically flag any potentially suspicious activity.

“The partnership with Genius Sports is a pivotal piece of our long-term vision to modernise Volleyball and its governance. We wish to innovate at all levels and the latest solutions provided by Genius Sports will be playing a key role in supporting our efforts to engage with our passionate fans even further and to provide a standardised, high-quality digital experience across all of our competitions,” Aleksandar Boričić, President of CEV, said.

“Providing sports with cutting-edge solutions to maximise the value of their live data and streamline the running of their competitions has been a central part of our business for more than 20 years. This approach is more important than ever for us and our partners and we are proud that our partnership with CEV will drive the growth and digital transformation of European Volleyball across indoor, beach and snow,” Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports, said.

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Industry News

Catena Media Reports Strong Growth in Q3

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Catena Media has announced the preliminary results for the third quarter ahead of the interim report to be published on November 17.

The company reports strong growth in revenue and adjusted EBITDA fuelled by an exceptionally strong US performance, along with an impairment charge arising from a writedown of German and French sports assets.

Revenue in Q3 is estimated at EUR 33.1m (24.9m), up 33% from the same period last year. Revenue from North American iGaming increased by approximately 124% and accounted for 51% of group revenue during the quarter.

Organic growth is estimated at 23%, or 34% excluding the now-regulated German iGaming market, where revenue fell approximately 62% and accounted for 4% of group revenue during the quarter.

Adjusted EBITDA, excluding items affecting comparability, is estimated at EUR 16.0m (12.0m), an increase of 33% and corresponding to a margin of 48%.

Operating profit will be negatively impacted by a non-cash impairment of intangible assets in accordance with IAS 36, resulting in an estimated writedown of EUR 49.4m. EUR 42.8m of the writedown pertains to German sports assets acquired between 2016 and 2018. EUR 6.6m relates to French sports assets acquired in 2018.

The writedown and consequent impairment charge reflect an updated assessment by management of the assets’ expected future earnings in the context of recent regulatory changes in Germany’s iGaming market and overall market conditions. Management regularly assesses expected future earnings in accordance with IAS 36 and may further adjust assets’ amortisation plans. The writedown will have no impact on cash flow.

Catena Media CEO Michael Daly said: “Q3 was an exceptional quarter with September revenue breaking our monthly all-time high. This was the result of our strategic investment in organic development, particularly in North America, and was supported by two recent acquisitions in the United States and the opening of the iGaming market in Arizona. The impairment charge adjusts our European business to new market realities following a review by the management team and our focus on transforming the business to reach maximum potential.”

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Industry News

888 Announces Q3 2021 Trading Update

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888, one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming companies, has announced a trading update for the three months ended 30 September 2021 (Q3 2021). The Group’s Q3 2021 performance was in line with the Board’s expectations.

At the end of the Period and following policy changes published by the Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA), the Group took the decision to cease provision of services in the Netherlands from 1 October 2021. The Group continues to believe the Netherlands represents an attractive medium-term opportunity and intends to apply for a local licence in the coming months. Notwithstanding this unforeseen development within the Netherlands, the Board remains confident that the performance of the Group during the current year will be in line with its expectations.

Looking ahead, the timing of any licence award within the Netherlands remains unclear, but the Group aims to be operational within the country during the second half of 2022. This temporary closure is expected to negatively impact 2022 EBITDA, post certain mitigations at Group level, by approximately $10 million, with no change in the Group’s expectations for 2023 and beyond.

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, said: “Q3 2021 was a period of outstanding strategic progress for 888. During the period we announced the transformational acquisition of William Hill International, successfully launched SI Sportsbook in the US, and began operating 888sport under a new licence in Germany as we continued to execute our plan to build a global online betting and gaming leader.

“Alongside these important strategic milestones, I am pleased with the Group’s continued positive trading, particularly as we lap very tough comparative periods. This performance reflects the continued success of our data-driven investments and execution against our product-leadership plan that delivers ongoing improvements in the usability, quality and safety of our sports betting and gaming products.

“Underpinned by our advanced technology, leading products, and strong brands, as well as the increased scale, talent and diversification that the Group will benefit from as a result of its combination with William Hill International, we have a very exciting platform for long-term growth.”

Business Review

Q3 2021 was a period of significant progress for 888. During the Period, the Group announced the transformational acquisition of William Hill International, which will significantly enhance the enlarged Group’s scale and create leading positions in several key regulated markets. In addition, the Group continued to deliver on its long-term growth strategy in the US market with the successful launch of SI Sportsbook in Colorado, utilising 888’s in-house sports betting platform for the first time in the US.

B2C

Gaming revenue growth of 11% was led by casino, reflecting the continuing success of the Group’s investment in enhancing the user experience through product and content leadership as well as AI-driven personalisation.

During the period, the Group launched more than 150 new casino games including several in-house developed games, which continue to resonate well with customers and provide a differentiated experience. Alongside expanding the range of content, the Group continues to improve the experience for customers using AI-driven recommendation engines and personalised offers, which it believes is leading to increased share of wallet, and therefore market share gains in several key regulated markets such as the UK, Italy, Spain and Romania.

Betting revenue declined 15% against Q3 2020 when the Group delivered a very strong performance that benefited from a condensed calendar of sporting events following Covid-related disruption, particularly within football across the Group’s UK and key European markets. Compared to Q3 2019, betting revenue increased 21%.

B2B

Revenue from 888’s B2B division increased 4% to $9.6 million, with both the bingo and US operational segments delivering moderate growth.

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