Remarkably, a lot of changes have been made in all sectors of the Swedish economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with the recent changes, the Swedish government outlined some restrictions on the online casino industry. Consequently, they aim to regulate the activities of online casinos and reduce gambling-related harm. Although the purpose of imposing the restrictions is well, it may have negatively affected the industry.
Limitations Imposed by the Swedish Government on the Online Casino Market
Like most countries, the Swedish Government set out some limitations on online casino gambling. Their aim of imposing the restrictions is to ensure responsible gambling, reduce money laundering, and reduce gambling-related issues. The conditions are:
- Deposit limit: Players are no longer allowed to deposit more than SEK5000 weekly.
- Bonus offers: Online casino operators licensed in Sweden will not be allowed to offer bonuses of more than SEK100 to their players.
- Playtime limits: Players have to set a limit on the amount of time they want to spend at the casino.
These new regulations will commence from the 2nd day of July till the end of 2020. And of course, the spread of the pandemic will determine whether the new guidelines will continue.
Compliance with the Limitations
It appears that online casinos are complying with the various limitations set out by the Swedish government. However, it seems some players may have found a way out of these limitations.
The Chief Executive Officer of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel, Gustaff Hoffstedt, in an interview recently stated that the regulations have forced their customers to opt for internationally licensed online casinos. According to him, the restrictions do not apply to internationally licensed casinos.
Gustaff Hoffstedt further added that this had put casino-reliant operators under immense pressure. Generally, the rules are making an impact on the online casino market.
Impact of the Restrictions on the Online Casino Market
According to the Swedish media outlet News 55, most of the country’s licensed online gambling operators suffered about a 30 percent decline in their sales. This was disclosed last Friday. The decline in revenue of the online casinos was noticed from June to August. Eventually, this report was based on the tax filings of most locally licensed online casinos in Sweden.
Notable companies that suffered some losses are:
- ComeOn Group: According to the report, their sales fell from SEK118m in June to SEK83m in August. This is approximately a drop of 29.6 percent. However, in ComeOn Groups cases, the drop may also be associated with their two major brands that were shut down to Swedish players in May 2020.
- Kindred Group (Unibet and Maria Casino): Their sales dropped from SEK101m to SEK72, representing a 28.7 percent slide from June to August.
- LeoVegas: They also experienced a huge downward slide in their sales. Theirs dropped by 29.6 percent to SEK57m.
- Hero Gaming: Their sales slid 27.8 percent at the same time from SEK13m.
Somehow, Bet365 fared better than other companies. Their sales slid to 6 percent only. The reason may be because their operations are focused more on sports betting.
Surprisingly, the state-owned Ab Trav Och Galopp (ATG) didn’t experience any losses. Their operations are mainly focused on horseracing. The government didn’t halt operations of horseracing due to the pandemic. Also, the spending limits imposed by the government didn’t extend to ATG. In fact, in August, ATG sold a total of SEK522m. Compared to their sales from June to August 2019, this year’s sale was 22 percent higher than the previous year.
Swedish Mutual Funds Giant Withdraw Online Casino Investments from Their Portfolio
Another major blow to the online casino real money market was the decision of Swedish mutual funds giant Länsförsäkringar Fondförvaltning to remove all gambling operators from their portfolio. According to some reports, Länsförsäkringar manager Sofia Aulin complained that their reason was that some operators were used to launder funds. Also, Sofia added that purging their company of such investments is a step further for the company.
In no small measure, this move will affect online casinos’ operations in Sweden, coupled with the limitations set out by the government.
Will the Swedish Online Casino Operators Survive This Trying Time?
Most likely, some operators may not survive through these hard times. Some may have to close down because of the low sales. The COVID-19 pandemic has made even the most viable businesses docile.
Finally, time will tell whether the online casino operators in Sweden will survive this challenging period. It is not clear when these limitations will be lifted. Obviously, the spread of the pandemic will determine when.