Joakim Mörnefält, Svenska Spel chief communications officer.

Earlier today (Friday 30 November) Swedish regulator Lotteriinspektionen unveiled the first licensees for the re-regulated market, with state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel one of the first to be given the green-light to commence operations on January 1, 2019.

Joined on the initial list by a further fifteen organisations Joakim Mörnefält, Svenska Spel chief communications officer, spoke to CasinoBeats to address how essential the developments being brought forward are, and opportunities offered by the soon to be liberalised Swedish market: “Above all, the new gambling legislation means we are at last getting an orderly gambling market in Sweden, instead of a kind of Wild West.

“…we will finally have a gambling market in which we can compete on equal terms”

“We now have a level playing field for gambling operators, increased revenues for the state, and clear rules to protect customers against excessive gambling, thanks to stronger and better consumer protection.

“For Svenska Spel, it means above all that we will finally have a gambling market in which we can compete on equal terms. For example, we have applied for licenses for games that we have not previously been able to offer to our customers, such as online casino and horse race betting.

“The new business structure within the Svenska Spel group is fully adapted to the new licensing system, and Svenska Spel will be a cohesive group with three business areas, one in each of the licensing areas; sport & casino, Tur, and Casino Cosmopol & Vegas.

“The purpose of the reorganisation is partly to comply with competition legislation and the new gambling legislation, and partly to create a clearer business focus.

“We have consulted two different law firms to make sure that our actions are in line with the new gambling legislation and Swedish competition legislation. They have both given us their approval.”  

We are restricting aggressive gambling advertising, and we are getting a central self-exclusion register”

Before stressing the significance of placing an added emphasis upon consumer protection: “Consumer protection is and will remain very important for Svenska Spel. We believe it will be strengthened in several ways through the new gambling legislation.

“We are restricting aggressive gambling advertising, and we are getting a central self-exclusion register. Our duty of care as gambling operators gives us the right to monitor customers’ gambling patterns and, when there are signs of problem gambling, make contact with the customer.

“We would have liked risk classification for games to have been included in the regulation, but that was not the case. However, this is something that can be addressed through the Swedish Gambling Authority’s regulations.

“These can impose tougher requirements on online gambling, such as online casino and betting, compared with lotteries. That is something we welcome.”     

Ahead of the debut of the newly liberalised market next year, Svenska Spel launched a fresh brand campaign within which it stated “we want to make it clear we are different,” Mörnefält went on to discuss how the firm will compete and ensure sustained success: “The new campaign mainly concerns three things that differentiate us from many other gambling operators.

“For us, protecting sport and our customers is more important than maximising revenue”

“First, we return our profits to the community via our owner, the Swedish state (SEK 4.7 billion last year).

“Second, our approach to responsible gambling, including our responsible gambling tools that help our customers play in moderation.

“And third, our investments, not only millions in gambling research every year but also in sport in Sweden.

“For example, we give 50 million every year to youth sport through our Gräsroten (Grass Roots) programme. In the deregulated gambling market, we will also continue to be the gambling operator for the people of Sweden, responsibly offering the games that customers demand.”

Concerning the group’s efforts around national sporting programs Svenska Spel recently aligned itself with creative studio Kit, designed to increase the awareness of match-fixing.

Mörnefält explained the reasons behind this, and why such an approach is crucial for the firm: “Combating match fixing is a priority for Svenska Spel. Match fixing is a threat both to sport and to gambling operators.

“For us, protecting sport and our customers is more important than maximising revenue in the short term. We have zero tolerance around match fixing, so we implement preventative measures such as training and information, we monitor games continuously, and we offer a responsible selection of games in accordance with the conditions of sport.

“…we will never give up the fight against match fixing”

“We also have a very close working relationship with sport. Our collaboration with Kit is one of many activities to increase knowledge about match fixing and its consequences.”

Issuing a call for “more gambling companies to join in the fight against match-fixing,” Mörnefält concluded by stating how exactly this could be achieved: “We are encouraging more gambling operators to join in the fight against match fixing, for example by restricting their range of games and by not offering games that are easy to manipulate.

“We do not offer gambling on youth matches, for example. We believe gambling on youth games is unacceptable and irresponsible, and can be the gateway to serious match fixing.

“We do not offer spot betting on individual match events such as the next corner or yellow card, regardless of the division or match series. We do not offer gambling on lower divisions. In football, for example, we offer gambling on matches only as far down as the Swedish second division.

“We hope that more gambling operators will follow our example. Svenska Spel is one of biggest sport sponsors in Sweden, and we will never give up the fight against match fixing.”