Swedish-facing operator Svenska Spel has hit out at media reports in the country suggesting there has been a significant rise in online casino gambling during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, describing the published figures as “misleading”.
Reports suggested the number of logins and registrations for online gaming websites increased by 33% over the past two weeks, based on figures released by the Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) for 17 of the country's 60 licensed casino operators.
However, Martin Johansson, an analyst for Svenska Spel, criticised how the figures were reported, saying they do not show a true picture of the current Swedish market.
Johansson specifically highlighted the 33% figure, saying that does not give an accurate picture of how many people have registered, adding that it does not have anything to do with online games.
He also noted that Svenska Spel, the former gambling monopoly in Sweden, has not seen this such an increase for its own igaming subsidiary, Svenska Spel Sport & Casino.
“It is not automatically negative that people spend some time at home and gamble a little instead of going to the cinema and or to the pub,” Johansson explained. “However, it is extremely serious if unhealthy gambling is increasing, and that is why we are of course following the customers their habits especially closely now.”
Johansson pointed out that the figures were only based on 17 operators, which only offer online casino. He said this did not constitute a representative selection for the market.
However, Johansson did admit that while online gambling is not automatically more addictive than in-person gaming, it does ask more of both operators and developers to ensure they are protecting players from harm.
“It means there are increased demands on the game designer to act responsibly, as availability and, above all, speed are crucial to the game's risk level,” Johansson said.
“The potential increase in risk is entirely dependent on the type of game offered online. For example, Lotto and Eurojackpot online are not associated with any significant risk, since online versions are basically identical to their physical counterparts and draws still only happen once or twice a week.”
Johansson’s response was supported by Kajsa Nylander, sustainability manager at Svenska Spel, who said while here has been a slight increase in online casino play at the operator, this was nothing close to the level suggested by the media.
“We have seen marginally increased interest in the products such as poker, bingo and casino,” Nylander said. “But even though the games are attracting new players, we are not currently see higher average consumption of these games.
“Average spending per customer for poker, bingo and casino is at the same levels as before the coronavirus eruption.”
Reports in the Swedish media also suggested government ministers are mulling a temporary shut-down or new restrictions on online casino to avoid an increase in gambling related harm during the pandemic.
Spelinspektionen confirmed to iGB that the government is considering various measures to protect consumers in the country, at a time when restrictions on movement are in place.