LeoVegas CEO is Joined by Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling Secretary General in Criticism of Sweden’s Online Gambling Regulations
by Glenn Baird - September 3, 2020
Gustaf Hagman, president and CEO of LeoVegas was openly critical of Sweden’s current online gambling restrictions, stating last month:
“It is therefore remarkable that Sweden, despite massive criticism from most areas, has moved in the opposite direction and introduced new, temporary restrictions, effective July 2, focused particularly on online casino.
“There is a large risk that these restrictions, implemented entirely without supporting factual data, are undermining the Swedish regulation system and driving players to companies without Swedish licences, where player protection is nonexistent.”
Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling has joined Hagan in his criticism, stating that:
“The criticism has been righteous since it points to the fact that the temporarily governmental actions towards the gambling industry were not only counter-productive but based on assumptions that turned out to be false.”
“The governmental actions enforced restrictions for online casino, with statements that online casino was intensely increasing due to COVID-19 and home sitting. That turned out to not be the case, but the measures were enforced anyway, and therefore deserve criticism.”
He went on, adding his concerns that operators could be forced into leaving Sweden if the regulations are maintained:
“The legislation as such is actually pretty good. The problem is that we have a trigger-happy government keen on adding new layers to the legislation. The new layers are so many that the regulation we have today differ a lot from the regulation that was implemented in January last year.
“This has caused a great deal of unpredictability for locally licensed operators whereas unlicensed operators seem to get on well in that environment. I believe we will see one or two cases of returned licenses before the end of the year, primarily niche operators with a focus on online casino.”
Hoffstedt went on to explain how he felt a balance between keeping online gambling worthwhile for licenced operators and keeping players safe needs to be reached:
“Understand and accept the fact that it is the consumer, not the industry nor the state, that decides whether games are played within or outside the licensing system.
“As a consequence, the state must not be too harsh towards licensed operators, since they are the ones that shall attract the punters to the licencing system. Politicians and regulators tend to overestimate the value of repressive measures (IP-blocking, payment blocking etc.) and underestimate the importance of creating an offer within the licensing system that the consumer finds attractive.”
He concluded by saying:
“The need of stability and predictability. We were pleased with the new regulation but did not pay enough attention to the fact that the government immediately started to change fundamental parts of that regulation.
“When the government asks the industry for aid and support, the industry shall reply positively but also ask for stability and predictability.”
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