The 1st of January 2019 marks an important milestone in Swedish gambling history. It was on this date, the Swedish government finally relinquished the state monopoly and started offering licenses to private gambling companies.
Sweden has been at the forefront of the online gambling industry for decades, both when it comes to gambling sites and game development. Many industry-leading brands are Swedish companies, and the country has played a critical role in pushing the industry forward.
Over the years, online gambling has only grown bigger. Smartphones and tablets, along with secure payments and id-verification methods, have empowered the gaming companies in a big way. Recent reports from Spelinspektionen, the Swedish equivalent of UKGC, show that Swedes play more online than ever before.
Why Sweden has started offering gambling licenses
The Swedish government’s efforts to keep the private operators out haven’t been effective. Online betting and casino companies have effortlessly managed to provide their services to Swedish players, and for the longest time, Sweden has been one of the most profitable markets (resource in Swedish).
In recent years, many operators have become listed companies, and the annual reports have shown incredible numbers. The Swedish government has made attempts to offer its own sports betting and casino sites but hasn’t been able to compete. Finally, the Swedish government has thrown in the towel to start to capitalise on Swedes online gaming habits.
Restrictions on bonuses and focus on responsible gambling
From now on, all gambling companies that wish to operate within the Swedish market need to obtain a Swedish gaming license. The license comes at the cost of approximately €40, 000 per brand. On top of that, operators have to pay 18% tax on all revenue.
Hefty license fees and taxation aren’t the biggest challenges for operators. The biggest hurdles seem to be the restrictions the Swedish government has put on marketing and bonus offers, and new policies for responsible gaming. From now on, operators are only allowed to offer players one bonus on sign up or on the first deposit. This means online casinos can no longer retain players with recurring campaigns. Anyone familiar with the industry would know this is a big gamechanger, as bonus offers have been at the core of the industry for a long time.
The Swedish government has also put a big emphasis on responsible gambling by enforcing a government-controlled register, listing all players that reportedly suffer from gambling addiction (resource in Swedish). Players can contact Spelinspektionen directly to request a self-exclusion. And when Spelinspektionen receives such a request, it will enforce it on all Swedish gambling sites for a duration of up to one year.
Furthermore, the Swedish government has made it mandatory for gambling sites to put a responsible gambling tool on the top of their websites. The banner creates more awareness among players and gives them easy access to deposit and wager limits, and other tools used in responsible gambling.
Q3 reports show that gambling companies are facing challenges
Almost a year into the regulation, it’s becoming evident that the new legislation has had a significant impact on the gambling companies. Leading brands like Betsson and Kindred Group are reporting an organic decrease in both sportsbook and casino in the third quarter.
Kindred Group’s report states that “the current terms of the Swedish market don’t look too encouraging because attracting customers is challenging, and channelisation is worsening”. At the same time, the Betsson Group has reported a revenue decrease of 11%. LeoVegas, on the other hand, reports favourable growth in Sweden despite the “greater regulatory complexity in several of our main markets”.
All three companies state the importance of having a revenue distribution spread across several markets. For Kindred Group, the UK and French market have been a saving grace, and the company has also broken into the US market.
Despite being somewhat successful in Sweden, LeoVegas has launched operations in five new markets this year. The most recent addition is Japan and the company’s looking to capitalise on the Spanish market in the near future.
For Betsson, the effects of stricter regulations have been rather dire. The steep revenue decrease is allegedly a direct result of “weak trends” across Sweden and the Netherlands, and Betsson has responded by cutting operating costs by approximately five million euros. Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson, states “Both revenue and operating profit are affected when significant markets develop negatively at the same time. Therefore, our geographical spread is valuable, and we see positive development in several of Betsson’s other markets, both locally regulated and non-locally regulated”.
Sweden’s new regulations have had a profound effect on online gambling companies. It seems the gambling companies are still adjusting to the new circumstances, and the consensus seems to be that operators shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket.
Samuel Leeds Buys Shares In Property Tribes; Says He Wants To Make It Better
People in UK property circles may be familiar with the very public dispute between former MTV presenter, property investor, and community manager of the company Property Tribes, Vanessa Warwick, & property investment trainer and owner of the company ‘Property Investors’, Samuel Leeds; as Leeds has accused Warwick of assisting with racism and discrimination against ethnic minority tenants. In recent news, Samuel Leeds was reported to have bought a 35% share of the company Property Tribes, making him officially now a person of significant control at Property Tribes.
Warwick established Property Tribes to accumulate wisdom from various property owners and landlords to create a place of guidance for people in the industry to do business better. According to the company,
“We wanted to create a free use, safe, and agenda-free place for landlords to get information from a “hive mind”, not a singularity, so that they could learn and grow their property business.”
However, in one of his recent videos, Samuel Leeds pointed out blatant support of racism in some of the advice coming from Warwick herself. As one of the landlords asks on the forum – if they would be implicated by the race discrimination laws in the UK for refusing tenancy to Bangladeshi families as the landlord is not fond of the smell of their staple food, curry; Vanessa Warwick herself is seen advising against mentioning the reason for said refusal, thus averting the legal repercussions altogether.
In the video, Leeds points out several more situations where Warwick has behaved in a racist manner. In fact, she has become a new advisor on the panel of the UK’s Property Redress Scheme and has been under criticism in their forum as well for supporting discrimination against ethnic minorities.
Warwick also expressed strong disapproval of Leeds as a property trainer citing the reason that his students came from the “vulnerable” demographic. Leeds called out the racist mindset in this reasoning, as in reality, his students predominantly come from ethnic minorities and don’t fall in the “vulnerable” category. He began drawing attention to the issue over his YouTube channel and his website, and ended up facing severe disparagement from Warwick and her followers. Leeds finally sued Warwick for defamation and she brought a counter lawsuit for six-figure damages.
In an attempt to put an end to the battle once and for all, Samuel Leeds reports to have bought a share, 35% to be exact, of the company, Property Tribes. Even though he is only a minority shareholder and will have limited control, Leeds believes he can make a difference in “cleaning up the company” and reduce racism in the forum.
He jokingly adds,
“Because they trolled me, I wanted to at least get paid… Like Michael Jackson did to Eminem.”
Leeds pledges that any money he makes off this transaction will be donated to charitable organisations that tackle racism and online bullying. In addition, Leeds will donate an extra £50,000 to organisations that fight hatred in the UK. With this move, he is determined to take a strong stand against all discriminations in the property sector or any other industry.
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