Marketing & affiliates

Sweden: how affiliates can help a safe and sustainable market

| By contenteditor
Evidence that regulatory restrictions are impairing the competitiveness of Swedish-licensed operators vs. their offshore counterparts is building. Andreas Holmsten looks at the role affiliates are currently playing in this and how they can become part of the solution rather than the problem
Andreas Holmsten_CasinoWings

CasinoWings was launched in 2015 with a vision to create a transparent and informative site with the aim of contributing to a simple and fair gambling industry.

In July 2020 the Swedish online gambling market underwent major changes as authorities imposed additional restrictions on licensees aimed at protecting players from the perceived greater risks of problem gambling during the pandemic.

These included setting a SEK5,000 monthly deposit limit for online casino and capping the amount of any bonus site can offer at SEK100. Earlier this month, these temporary controls were extended yet again, to November 2021.

Such limits, on top of those introduced upon the re-regulation of the market in 2019, were designed with responsible gambling in mind.

However, they are now having the opposite effect to that intended, by driving players to seek out the gambling experience they want from non-Swedish licensed sites, which often offer fewer player protections.

The rise in the appeal of the black market to Swedish consumers has been reflected in the rise in search volumes for terms such as “casino without Swedish licence”, with research now showing the channelisation of players within the regulated regime as lagging well behind the 90% rate targeted by the Swedish government in 2019.

A compounding factor also not always considered here is the impact of affiliates choosing to promote offshore brands over their regulated counterparts.

The Gambling Act, which restricted bonuses to one introductory incentive per player, led to many affiliates turning their attention to new markets or disappearing completely.

And as the online casino restrictions introduced under Covid-19 continue to squeeze the profits to be made from Swedish licensed sites, more affiliate businesses are opting to partner with offshore casinos.

CasinoWings is aware that Major brands like Cherry AB and Svenska Spel have also decreased marketing spending by about half, leading to reduced funds for their affiliate programmes.  

Affiliate clampdown ahead?
Affiliate sites that feature operators that are unlicensed in Sweden are also at risk of running into legal trouble if the government begins to clamp down on how these sites are advertised.

Performance marketers may have to adapt as they did before, distancing themselves from unlicensed sites and using paid advertising to bring in more site traffic.

Affiliates always need to be prepared to change strategy in the face of new regulations, but traffic drivers will always be the most important area to focus on.

Driving out offshore sites
If the Swedish government wants to get serious about tackling problem gambling, they need to start educating gamblers as well as implementing restrictions. According to a recent survey by Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen, 95% of Swedish gamblers don’t even know how to check whether an operator has a licence.

Restrictions are also very difficult to implement against offshore sites, as the Swedish law doesn’t apply to them. However, the government could work with internet service providers to potentially limit internet access to these sites. While this may seem an extreme measure, it could be enacted against websites deemed by authorities to be potentially harmful to players.

The Swedish government could also look to work with affiliates to help make offshore sites less appealing.

They could do this by ensuring affiliates only promote sites that are licensed in Sweden and educate players on the importance of transacting with sites that hold a Swedish gambling licence.

These measures could help make offshore sites less appealing to Swedish players and achieve far better results in terms of channelising players to regulated offerings than simply applying more restrictions.

So while further regulation may seem like a bad thing at this time, it could have the effect of helping to make the Swedish online gambling market safer and more respectable to players.


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