Swedish gambling regulator announces first new licenses

The Swedish gambling regulator Lotteriinspektionen has named the first sixteen online operators who will be able to offer gambling services to the newly re-regulated Swedish market. Kindred Group, Betsson and LeoVegas are among those named, along with bet365 and Tombola from the UK.

Swedish government building

The licences will be officially issued on January 1st 2019. © Pexels.

A list of approved operators has been released by Swedish gambling regulator Lotteriinspektionen. The sixteen companies named will be able to serve customers based in Sweden from the start of the year. This will be the first time that private companies have been allowed to access the Swedish market, with the state-owned Svenska Spel having monopoly status previously.

Several Scandinavian companies were included in the list of newly licensed firms. The Kindred Group, which owns well-known gambling brands including 32Red, bingo.com, Roxy Palace and Unibet, confirmed they featured on the Lotteriinspektionen approved list. Despite being listed on the Stockholm stock exchange, the Nasdaq Nordic, the company was unable to offer online services to Swedish residents.

Kindred Group’s CEO, Henrik Tjärnström, welcomed the opening up of the market, calling it a ‘historic day for Kindred’ and was keen to stress that this decision would benefit Swedish consumers. Tjärnström said he was confident of his company’s ability to provide a safe environment for customers, saying:

We have been pushing for a modern and sustainable gambling market in Sweden from the very start of Unibet in 1997, in which the focus is on consumer protection and harm minimisation. Henrik Tjärnström, CEO Kindred Group

At a recent Sustainable Gambling Conference held in Stockholm, Tjärnström told the audience that the industry needed ‘all-around stakeholder collaboration’ to tackle obstacles on social responsibility and trust. He urged a collaborative approach with operators and regulators working together to combat issues.

Another Swedish company who are positive about the gambling re-regulation are Betsson AB. The online gambling operator holds gaming licenses in 12 jurisdictions, runs operations from 10 different locations and employs over 1,800 staff. The CEO of Betsson was equally optimistic, with CEO Pontus Lindwall saying,

We look forward to operating on our Swedish home market as a recognised operator on equal terms. Pontus Lindwall, CEO Betsson AB

Stoke-on-Trent based bet365, along with Sunderland based Tombola, are two British firms to be granted licenses. bet365 have been aggressive in their global expansion plans which have seen the company create revenue figures of £2.2b with profit up 38% at £504m. Sunderland based Tombola may not have the global appeal of bet365 but will be hoping their mantra of encouraging low-stake play rather, than influence greater spend, is popular with the Swedish public.

Not all the applicants who applied received the same duration of licensing, with the regulator taking into account previous history. Casumo, GVC, and LeoVegas received a two-year operating license rather than the five-year deal that the majority of applicants received. All three of these companies have fallen foul of regulatory bodies with all being fined by the UK Gambling Commission. Casumo were hit financially for failing to protect customers from gambling harm, whilst LeoVegas and GVC were punished for misleading advertisements and bonus offers.

Despite the reduced duration of the license, GVC is likely to see their inclusion as a victory. The GVC Holdings group contains among others the Ladbrokes and Coral brands. In 2005, Ladbrokes defied Swedish law by advertising their online scratch card in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladt. The advertisement didn’t last long as Lotteriinspektionen reported the incident to the police and the advertisement was pulled.

It is expected that there will be additions to the list of licensed operators. A spokesman for Lotteriinspektionen said the length of time taken depended on the complexity of the case, but added that operators should learn the results of their applications in the next few weeks.

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