The Swedish government has revealed it plans a full investigation and crackdown into unlicensed and illegal gambling in the country following a desperate plea from one of its most high profile operators.
A tough year financially for LeoVegas has led to much soul-searching within the online casino and sports betting firm, and one area they believe they have been short-changed by Sweden’s law makers is in deterring illegal operators and those offering their services to Swedish players without a licence.
And so the government has announced a full-scale investigation into the problem that will be led by Gunnar Larsson, the director general of the Chamber of Commerce, and you suspect he will be tasked with squeezing offshore casinos out of the market while providing more agreeable conditions for Swedish brands to thrive.
That may just include the introduction of payment blocking to unlicensed gambling firms, which would prevent Swede’s gamers from depositing and withdrawing funds from their accounts and thus push them towards playing with a licensed firm.
The Swedish Gambling Authority has run a survey which found that just 5% of domestic gamers know how to check if an online betting site is licensed by Sweden’s authorities, and the implication of that is that the vast majority of players aren’t particularly fussed about their provider’s location.
The minister of social security in Sweden, Ardalan Shekarabi, has commented that ‘increased efforts’ will be deployed into excluding illegal operators from the Swedish market. “We have a responsibility to protect, above all, vulnerable consumers from illegal gambling, but also to protect the serious players in the gambling market from unfair competition,” he said.
LeoVegas Posts Disappointing Third Quarter Figures Amid ‘Troubling’ Landscape
The CEO of LeoVegas has called for decisive action from the government to end the ‘unhindered’ growth of the unlicensed gambling market.
Gustaf Hagman says ‘quick and strong measures’ are required after his firm saw revenue grow just 1% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020, which was reflected in decreased earnings, which had shrunk by nearly 20%.
The troubles of 2020 are an obvious root cause, but Hagman believes that illegal gambling is another factor behind the below-par returns. “In Sweden we are seeing a troubling development in which the unlicensed market continues to grow unhindered,” he said.
“A growing number of operators without licences are actively targeting Swedish players, including those who have been barred by the self-exclusion tool Spelpaus. This has been confirmed by, among others, several organisations that provide help to people with a gambling problem.
“The problem is big and is shaking the foundation of the entire Swedish licence system. Quick and strong measures are now needed by Swedish politicians and authorities to ensure a well-functioning Swedish gaming market.”
It’s not all been doom and gloom for the firm, however. They recorded increases in both new (24%) and returning players (28%) year on year, with new brands like Livecasino and GoGoCasino facilitating much of that increased demand.
Alas in Sweden the picture is less rosy for the operator, with both the number of players deposits and the amount deposited both shrinking considerably as part of the Swedish government’s online casino restrictions that were brought in back in July.
Hagman warns that if the Swedish government doesn’t stamp down on illegal gambling in the country, the fair gaming market in the Nordic nation could be a thing of the past.