Kindred Group critical of Swedish regulatory proposals

Kindred Group has released its official thoughts on the Swedish government’s proposed gambling restrictions, set to come into effect from 1st June. 

The Stockholm-headquartered operator called the proposals “an open invitation to illegal gambling sites”. 

A focus was also put on the already-burgeoning black market, which has grown in recent months according to new research. 

If proposals are passed, players in Sweden will be subjected to deposit limits and more until at least the end of 2020. 

“A negative development”

The Swedish government put forward new online casino restrictions in April. These are designed to protect players from possible problem gambling due to COVID-19. 

Kindred CEO Henrik Tjärnström is worried that if these go ahead, unregulated operators will be further empowered in the country. 

In the group’s official press release, he said the following. 

“We are extremely concerned that the Swedish gambling market continues to shrink, a trend confirmed by both the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) and research firm Copenhagen Economics. What the government is now proposing will result in a continued decline in the gambling market and an erosion of consumer protections.

“We need to be careful about introducing regulations that move customers away from regulated gambling companies towards unlicensed sites where Swedish authorities have no ability whatsoever of ensuring a high consumer protection. This is a negative development for customers, for the licensed gambling companies, and for society as a whole.” 

Suggestions for the government 

Kindred also outlined that Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi’s actions might be excessive. The operator said that no evidence exists “in either the draft regulation or gambling companies’ own data showing an increase in problem gambling due to COVID-19”. Instead, it believes that the opposite is true and gambling activity has gone down. 

Concerns were also raised about whether or not legal operators could realistically follow every single rule being set out. Since brands wouldn’t be able to make the technological changes needed to adhere to new regulations before 1st June, they would be forced to “choose which rules to violate”. 

A range of things that the government could do to improve the integrity of Sweden’s gambling market were also mentioned. These were as follows. 

  • Quickly implement B2B-licenses for suppliers and customer acquisition companies. 
  • Consider further regulation of the instant loan industry. 
  • carry out powerful public awareness campaigns. 
  • Clarify the Gambling Authority’s mission by requesting player data from gambling companies to facilitate fact-based assessments.
Sweden’s unregulated gambling market 

Statistics vary when it comes to the actual size of the Swedish black market. However, the general consensus is that channelisation is dropping. According to new research published by Copenhagen Economics, “every fourth krona goes to the unlicensed market for online casino games”. 

The research firm also found that the percentage of the market that is regulated could be as low as 72%. In Q4 2019, Spelinspektionen – the country’s gambling regulator – said that it was going to clamp down on illegal gambling. 

Recent research from iGaming affiliate BonusFinder also found that the number of players deliberately searching for illegal online casinos has risen since the market’s re-regulation in January 2019. It was also found that some affiliates were encouraging this activity.