The State of the Swedish Online Gambling Industry

An interview with Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary-General at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling.

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By Erika Rosenstein

The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, or BOS (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel), represents gambling companies and game developers that target Swedish consumers.

Committed to promoting a well-regulated and non-discriminatory Swedish environment for responsible gambling companies, BOS encourage the adoption of high standards of probity, integrity and social responsibility within the industry.

As a Strategic Partner of the Prague Gaming and Tech Summit, I had the privilege to meet Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary-General at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling.

What are the biggest challenges faced by online gambling consumers nowadays?

For the normal player, life is now fairly problem-free. There are plenty of gambling companies on the regulated market to choose from. The selection of games has probably never been greater. What still pulls down the rating on the Swedish gambling market a bit are certain over-regulations, for example that all forms of loyalty bonuses are prohibited.

Protecting the social interest and ensuring safe gambling in Sweden: how do you do that?

The most important thing is to use the carrot and the stick to ensure that gambling in Sweden takes place on the regulated license market. Unless the customers choose to be there, there is no safe game to offer. The stick in that context is that the state must hunt down unlicensed actors operating in the Swedish gambling market. The carrot is that the state must allow the licensing market to be attractive from the gambling consumer’s perspective, by not over-regulating and banning popular gaming offers on the licensing market.

What is the state of regulation in Sweden?

Sweden has a licensing system that is open to all serious gambling companies in betting, online poker, online bingo and online casinos. Land-based casino and lotteries are still monopolized. In the summer, there will also be a requirement for state permission for game developers and game suppliers.

Channelization in Sweden has been one of your biggest priorities: what is the rate now?

It is far too low and has been for a long time. According to recent statistics from the horse betting company ATG, channelization is estimated to be 78-88 percent for the competitive gambling market as a whole, but significantly lower for the gambling vertical online casino, where channelization is estimated to be 68 percent and still falling.

The bitter pill for every legislator and gambling authority to swallow is that repressive measures against the unlicensed gambling companies will never be enough to succeed in reaching acceptable channelization. You must also allow the licensed gambling companies to offer an attractive gambling experience on the regulated market. This is why over-regulation should be avoided. In the online gambling market, the costumer is king, and offers from the unregulated market are never more than a few clicks away on their smartphone or desktop.

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