Deposit limit could drive high-value players offshore in Sweden

The debate over regulation in Sweden continues to rumble on following the government’s decision to enforce a series of wagering and deposit restrictions.

The decision was met by immediate criticism from the licensed operators as well as the country’s regulator. 

The panel discussing ‘the fallout from Sweden’ at the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital weighed in on developments.

Morten Ronde, Managing Director of Nordic Gaming underlined the differences in the Danish and Swedish market, when stated: “Not only is the purpose of the Swedish and Danish legislation the same, I’d say the wording of the law is almost identical. I’d guess that 80% of the law is the same – but it’s that final 20% that makes the difference. What you don’t see in the law is the dealings of the local gambling authority. Bonusing is a major difference between the two countries.

“Our industry very much depends on the bonus offers, but it goes beyond that because it’s also sales promotion too. When a digital industry says that you cannot make offers to your customers, it would effectively reduce the competition in the market which is effectively what has been done in Sweden.

“Denmark obviously has strict regulations when it comes to bonus offers, but they are still permitted. The authority in Sweden has created a very non-transparent market because there is no communication for the operator or supplier with the gambling authority – you have to communicate through your representative. But in Denmark, every company has two contact persons within the gambling authority, and a lot of issues are cleared out this way. In Sweden, it is decided by these decisions made by the authority that creates a massive liability for suppliers.”

Addressing the 5000 SEK deposit limit, panellists were in overwhelming agreement that the government-mandated measures would significantly impact on channelisation rates, which could, in turn, result in a ‘re-regulation of the market’.

Thomas Vermeulen, Affiliate & Internationalisation Manager at Smarkets, asserted his opinion that the limits would not necessarily have a negative impact on the typical player but would rather have a huge effect upon the high-value customer – subsequently driving them to play via offshore sites.

He explained: “I think the limits will have a negative effect. There was previously a report which showed that the average loss of a Swedish gambler over the year was roughly 5600 SEK, meaning that only a small percentage of the user base is generating a large portion of the revenue while a large majority are playing with significantly lower amounts.

“I don’t think that the smaller players are really affected by the measures, but the bigger value players are still playing, albeit somewhere else. They’re now playing offshore.”

Fintan Costello, Managing Director at BonusFinder also added: “It’s obvious that it’s a nonsense piece of legislation. It’s clearly a soundbite for a politician to use as part of the next election campaign. The practicalities of this are ridiculous – players can still open up multiple accounts, they can still bet offshore.

“It’s failing in protecting those that it’s aimed at. It’s clearly just politics – I’d argue that it’s not even aimed at player protection, it’s just pure politics.”