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Swedish channelisation declines in 2020 as retail customers migrate online

| By Nosa Omoigui
A report from Sweden's State Treasury has found that 85% of gambling in the country during 2020 took place with operators licensed in Sweden, a decrease from the reported figure in 2019.

This represents a 20% increase on 2018 figures, when only 70% of gambling was conducted at licensed Swedish vendors – before the industry was re-regulated.

However compared to 2019, the figure has dropped from 90%.

The state office puts the drop down to the fact that the pandemic has prohibited customers from gambling with licensed retail vendors, instead having to gamble online with increased regularity.

The rate of channeling was found to be lowest in online casinos, where the figure dropped to as low as 75%.

As well as Covid-19, the State Treasury said another reason for the change is that unlicensed sites are designed similarly to the regulated channels, making it harder for customers to discern between the two.

“BOS emphasizes that there are gaming companies that try to circumvent the Swedish gaming law by avoiding using Swedish as a language and Swedish currency,” read a statement from the State Treasury included in the report.

“But for many Swedes, it is no problem to play in English and to use other currencies.”

BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said the report vindicates his organisation, which has repeatedly warned of threats to channelisation in the market and argued government figures may underestimate the threat of the black market.

“I hope that the State Office’s report can now put an end to the political proposals that the so-called channeling into the Swedish licensing system would be good. 

“It is not, and the trend remains negative. We have felt quite alone in this remark, but hope for more support now that the state’s own expert authority points to the same thing.”

Hoffstedt added that a combination of strict restrictions and a lack of enforcement against unlicensed operators led to the decline. Last year, the country implemented a controversial SEK5,000 (£428/€476/$540) mandatory weekly deposit cap for online casino games, which – following an extension – will last until June. Before it was implemented, regulator Spelinspektionen joined BOS in warning that unlicensed operators may benefit from the cap.

“The increasing leakage to the unlicensed gaming market is due to two things,” he said. “On the one hand, the Swedish-licensed gaming market has been plagued by so many government restrictions that gaming consumers have grown tired and to an increased extent sought their gaming experiences elsewhere.

“On the one hand, the gaming law has such major shortcomings that in Sweden unlicensed gaming companies have been able to continue to offer their games to Swedish gaming consumers without hindrance. This anomaly must end.”

Earlier today, Spelinspektionen issued a cease and desist order to Betmaster and Bongo operator Reinvent for targeting Swedish customers without a licence.

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