Much criticism has been shot in the direction of Sweden during recent weeks and months, with the implementation of a series of temporary restrictions gaining condemnation from many quarters.

The restrictions have been labelled as “counterproductive” by operators, with it said that they could contribute to an increase in problem gaming across the country.

Lamenting decisions made in the region last month Gustaf Hagman, president and CEO of LeoVegas, said: “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.”

Developments across the market are to form a key focal point for the ‘Future of Gaming’ track at next week’s SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, with ‘The Fallout from Sweden’ taking place on the event’s fourth and final day.

“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,” Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, said of the developments ahead of his participation at the event.

“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.”

I believe we will see one or two cases of returned licenses before the end of the year”

Adding his thoughts on if we could start seeing licensed operators leave the region soon with the market having proven tough because of rules and regulations: “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.”

The Fallout from Sweden takes places on Friday 11 September at 11:30 – 12:10 CEST, with Hoffstedt set to be joined by Fintan Costello, managing director of BonusFinder, and Morten Ronde, managing director of Nordic Gaming, among others.

Continuing to offer an insight into how the panel session could play out, Hoffstedt delved into how lawmakers can best navigate the line between keeping players safe and overregulation that potentially pushes them towards unregulated markets: “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.”

Before concluding on the key lessons that could be learned from the approach taken in Sweden: “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.”

Further details, including the agenda, full line-up of 200 speakers and list of the 100 virtual exhibitors, are available from the official SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital website

To join the 10,000 delegates from around the world, click here to register for free