Swedish CEOs propose measures to improve player protection
Nine chief executives from major Sweden-facing gambling operators have called for a shake-up of the country's gambling regulations after a report suggested new restrictions could lead to half of bets being placed with unlicensed operators.
In a joint statement coordinated by operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlienspel (BOS), chief executives of businesses such as William Hill, Kindred Group and Betsson set out seven key demands that they said would ensure a safer industry for players. The signatories, which also included NetEnt, LeoVegas, ComeOn, Videoslots, Hero Gaming and Suprnation, said these measures would raise standards, without damaging channelisation rates.
BOS has already warned that new restrictions on casino stakes could see channelisation rates for online casino fall from 75%, to as low as 52% to 63%. This would mean that almost half of all money wagered in Sweden was staked via unlicensed operators.
“The industry has lots of suggestions that we have highlighted for some time with the purpose to create a safer and more secure gambling market,” said BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt.
“We collect those suggestions today in a master document. All the suggested measures contribute to improved safety on the gambling market.
“None of them, as with the case of the Government’s suggestions, push the punters away from the licensed gambling market,” he said. “We urge the Government to shift focus, withdraw their own suggestions and adopt the ones we present today. In the name of a safe gambling market and protection of the channelisation.”
As a response to the expected growth of gambling during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Swedish Ministry of Finance has announced a set of measures to be introduced in the coming weeks which would limit deposits on online casino games and slots to SEK5,000 (£428/€482/$545) per week. Players would also be required to set time limits for gameplay.
However, the plans – already amended from initial proposals set out in April – have been slammed by operators from the public and private sector, as well as sports clubs and the Swedish regulator.
BOS and the operators have called on the Government to focus on improving, rather than undermining, the regulated sector. They said licensing framework should be expanded to include B2B operators, and called for greater publicity for the self-exclusion register, Spelpaus.
The group said data laws should be amended so that operators can share information about players, and also said the Government should expand the Swedish Gambling Authority’s (Spelinspektionen) mandate to “strengthen the all-important degree of channelisation”.
They added that gambling companies' data is part of the solution to avoid the risk of greater problem gambling.
“The digital gambling industry collects and processes large amounts of data on customers' gambling behaviour,” the group said. “The Ministry of Finance should instruct the Swedish Gambling Authority to request regular reports, with anonymised data, on customers' gambling behaviour in order to increase understanding about gambling habits and identify any systematic problems. The gambling companies have this data and already share it with researchers.
“Great strides have been made in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Computers are capable of handling huge amounts of data and identifying the patterns required for increasing understanding and providing the basis for decisions. The gambling industry is also making progress in this area and sees great opportunities for improving our ability to detect and stop harmful phenomena such as problem gambling, match fixing, and money laundering.
“The Ministry of Finance has a golden opportunity to initiate a strategic collaboration in this area together with authorities, researchers, the gambling industry, and gambling addiction groups.”