LeoVegas reasserts Swedish proposals are ‘unfound and unjustified’

LeoVegas believes the Swedish government’s recent proposals to tighten restrictions on the online casino sector during COVID-19 are ‘unfounded and unjustified’.

This comes after the Ministry of Finance’s proposal for placing further restrictions on the Swedish gambling market had been met by ‘strong and unanimous criticism’ with various stakeholders in the gambling industry, state and private, along with the Swedish Gambling Authority, sports clubs and international and national media stating the proposals as ‘unrealistic’.

This follos an independent report by the Copenhagen Economics which highlighted that implementing deposit limits on online casinos would result in ‘almost half if all bets’ would end up being placed with unlicensed companies. 

The report, which is based on turnover data, consumer surveys, interviews and international research, shows that channelisation for online casinos is forecast to fall from 75 per cent to 52-63 per cent if deposit limits are introduced.

In a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance, LeoVegas emphasised that there is ‘no reason to drive through temporary regulations’ as the company believes that online casinos are ‘not a particularly dangerous game type’.

In a media release, LeoVegas said: “Talking about online casinos that are particularly risky is wrong, there is no research that supports this claim.

“LeoVegas’ view is that there is not an increased risk in the gaming vertical online casino because, according to the duty of care, follows a type of individualised risk classification. 

“Furthermore, LeoVegas wishes to highlight the fact that the Spelinspektionen has implemented a number of supervisory measures and imposed supervision fees and warnings to most companies with a Swedish license since the Gaming Act came into force in January 2019.”

The letter was sent in response to the Ministry of Finance’s proposed interim measures to strengthen player protections during the pandemic.

The company noted that it shares the government’s view that strong player protection is of the ‘utmost importance’ yet stressed that it is ‘crucial’ that changes in existing gaming legislations are ‘based on facts and thorough impact assessments’ to get the ‘intended effect and impact’.

The statement continued: “The revised proposal has not raised this concern, rather the opposite. The measures proposed undoubtedly have a significant effect on them licensed players operating in the Swedish gaming market and LeoVegas is convinced that the proposals presented by the government run the risk of eroding and destroying the licensing system as with broad political majority became reality in early 2019, a system with a strong focus on consumer protection and increased state control.”

LeoVegas highlighted that online casino activity had decreased during March and April of this year compared to the corresponding period last year.

The company highlighted that in the regulator’s interim report published on May 19, which is based on figures from the Swedish Tax Agency, online casinos reduced their turnover by six per cent in March 2020 compared with March 2019. 

Preliminary net sales for online casinos saw a decrease of 5.4 per cent in April 2020 compared with April 2019.

Furthermore, LeoVegas claimed the support line saw a decline in the number of contacts, both call contacts and visit the website, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It was concluded: “The guide can not see any increase in the level of gambling problems during the corona pandemic compared to before. Nor does the industry see any trends in increased risk behaviour or problem gambling.”