Swedish Online Gambling Revenues Fall After Latest Restrictions Kick In
Swedish online casino operators have experienced a precipitous drop off in revenues over the past three months after regulator Spelinspektionen introduced a whole host of new restrictions on players and casinos.
Back in July, operators warned the wide-ranging new limits would affect their bottom line and could send customers back to quasi-legal international operators.
Well-known operators like The Kindred Group (Unibet, Maria Casino), LeoVegas, and The ComeOn Group all saw revenues fall by 28-30% between July and September 2020.
ComeOn Group saw the biggest drop, losing around SEK 35 million ($3.95 million) off of last year’s revenue figures for the same period.
The new rules from Spelinspektionen included a SEK5000 ($537) monthly deposit limit across all companies – and a SEK100 ($10) limit on bonus offers and promotions.
Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the Swedish online gambling industry group, was in no mood to pull any punches in its latest press releases.
“Neither the Ministry of Finance nor any other stakeholder has presented facts to support the underlying assumption that gambling in general – and play on online casinos in particular – have increased during the COVID-19 crisis,” it said.
Casinos are now “under pressure” from the new regulations as well as the economic impact of the pandemic, said BOS chief Gustaff Hoffstedt.
“It is the customers who choose where the best product is. In a digital world, that power does not lie with the state,” he reminded Swedish ministers.
The worry is that introducing these limits will mean many gamblers return to unlicensed (and untaxed) international casino operators who don’t apply the restrictions.
This could unintentionally increase the risk of financial harm to customers and deprive the country of tax revenue during an unprecedented pandemic.
I’m Alright, Jack
One betting arena that isn’t seeing the same falloff is Swedish horse racing. The only way to legally bet on horses in Sweden is through state-owned operator Ab Trav Och Galopp or ATG.
We’ll give you two guesses as to which gambling operator doesn’t need to submit to any of the new restrictions. Yes, the one owned by the government.
“It is obvious that the Government’s actions despite its rhetoric have little to do with consumer protection, but rather to do with an aim to provide benefits to a gambling company that is closely connected to the Government,” said Mr. Hoffstedt back in May.
It seems his prediction has come true, as ATG recently posted a 25% rise in revenues from the same quarter in 2019. Its operation was helped by the cessation of almost all live sport across Europe for several months, except for Swedish horse racing.
It hasn’t been a good quarter for Nordic gambling firms in general, either.
It started with giant Stockholm investment firm Länsförsäkringar Fondförvaltning (LF) dropping no less than 28 Nordic gambling companies from its investment books – losing them out on millions of dollars of investment over the next year.
The firm pointed towards a Spelinspektionen risk assessment from Q1 of 2020, which suggested some Swedish gambling firms may be unintentionally providing a space for criminal money laundering in the region and beyond.
LF sustainability manager Sofia Aulin told a Swedish newspaper that the move was “a step forward in our work with responsible investments.”
With online casino revenues already falling by 30% and the possible future paths of the COVID-19 economic crash still unclear, these are certainly troubling times for online casinos invested in Sweden – and that includes some of Europe’s biggest gambling names.
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