Sweden's Svenska Spel Online Gambling Fears Exposed

A few months ago the Swedish government made the decision to scrap the monopoly on online gambling in Sweden. A government-appointed commission was set up in 2015 to review the Swedish gambling industry and report on possible changes to improve tax revenue and offer more selection for online gambling players.  Offshore online casinos have been infiltrating the gambling market in Sweden and not paying associated taxes or licensing fees.

The state owned and regulated gambling company Svenska Spel is experiencing growth with Swedish households spending 2.3% of disposable income with Svenska Spel. Unregulated online betting saw larger expansion which increased by 16% last year.

Now after reviewing the results of the review there has been new development. Svenska Spel has issued its own regulatory recommendations via the Swedish media outlet, Dagens Samhälle.  Fredrik Schulte who is a member of the Swedish Moderate Party has labelled Spel’s input as ‘serious mischief’ and is concerned the monopoly holder Svenska Spel is trying to sway the politicians into accepting the favoured position of the government’s online gambling provider.

The government run gambling provider’s CEO, Lennart Käll and Chairman, Erik Strand responded by pointing out the two areas that need attention when creating new legislation for gambling. The business men were of the opinion that the minimization of problem gambling risks and the introduction of effective mechanisms to combat illegal gambling were the main issues to contend with. They also said in the news article that offshore firms offering online gambling services and products should be fully vetted before being granted a license to operate from the country’s regulator.

As it stands now Svenska Spel is the only authorised operator of online gambling services in Sweden and have been taking profits from the local market prompting Svenska to ask for a ‘fair set of regulations to create fair competition’. It will not be until early 2019 that the new regulations will come into effect.





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Kindred Group Focuses On Responsible Gambling

Responsible gambling is the key to a good time while not enduring any repercussions or harm caused by excessive or compulsive betting. Gambling operator Kindred Group is a participant in the effort to find the best ways of dealing with issues caused by problem gambling. Recently the company commissioned two researchers in the gambling industry professors at Nottingham Trent University, Michael Auer, the director at Neccton, and Mark Griffiths who will utilize anonymous customer information for research in responsible gambling.

The former Unibet Group, now called Kindred will take measures to improve the quality of gaming practices and move towards a more responsible gaming environment. The discussions are now on the front burner for the company which is making an effort to comply with expectations and protect its customers from problem gambling issues.

Kindred Group is attempting to ensure safe and secure customer participation.  Professors Auer and Griffiths have been researching the gambling field for about five years prior to the request by Kindred Group. The experts have been publishing studies that have investigated the methods and various apparatus needed to improve the responsible gaming model. The work they have done has prompted a variety of online gambling operators to review and make necessary changes to their platforms products and services to enable a quick response to developing gambling issues.

Some of those improvements include the time spent playing and fund limits for a single online game, the availability of real time custom feedback to improve a gambler’s habits, along with the offering of expert advice and professional assistance. Online gambling operator Kindred Group consists of 13 brands, among them Unibet, Maria Casino, Stan James, 32Red, iGame and it is on the leading edge for consumer safety and security. The research that Kindred will finance will go a long way for operators and consumers in the new age of wagering.


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Ontario Lottery and Gaming Awards 20 year Casino Contract

The Canadian gambling jurisdictions are varied with a number of provincial governments offering betting venues across the country. One of the most valuable properties in Canada is the huge and populated province of Ontario which holds massive potential for the gambling industry.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has been undergoing changes to make the offerings in the jurisdiction more profitable which includes the introduction of online betting. The OLG decided to put out a call for proposals to acquire an operator for the potentially large wagering market. It was not surprising that the call attracted some of the industry`s biggest operators.

Companies such as Caesars Entertainment were considering Ontario`s projected expansion of an underdeveloped gambling business model. Genting Group was also in the running for the 20 year contract. The Malaysian based company Genting has reportedly lost its bid for the operator contract. Hard Rock International also expressed interest in running the OLG casino expansion plans but left the competition in order to continue with development plans in Cyprus. Another company Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management lost the bid for the three casino venues currently available now in Ontario.  

The Great Canadian Gaming Corp and Brookfield Business Partners have acquired OLG Slots at Woodbine, Ajax Downs and at the Great Blue Heron Casino located in the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and other gambling venues according to the OLG report.

The new deal with the Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Business Partners L.P. will see each company hold 49% of the interest, while Toronto based private equity management firm Clairvest Group Inc will hold the last 2%.  Trading of Great Canadian Gaming Corp stocks were temporarily suspended by regulators due to the expected news the bidding for the lucrative contract had been obtained. This news gives new hope for gamblers in Ontario who have not been given much opportunity over the last few years.








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Aristocrat Leisure Acquires Social Gaming Firm Plarium Global

Aristocrat Leisure Limited is an Australian gambling machine manufacturer headquartered in Sydney Australia with marketing and development offices in Russia, USA, United Kingdom, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Mexico and Macau. The company has approximately 2,080 people employed. The Video Gaming Technologies firm was purchased by Aristocrat Leisure for about US$1.3 billion in 2014. The acquisition increased its gambling machine collection in North America from 8,200 to 28,400.

Now Aristocrat has acquired Israeli social gaming company Plarium Global Ltd, giving more traction to Aristocrat’s tech sector. The firm recently announced that it has signed a binding agreement to purchase 100 percent of Plarium for US$500 million in cash, still subject to customary completion adjustments.

The acquired firm will augment Aristocrat’s exposure “to the fast growing digital market,” This move is expected to grow Aristocrat’s digital properties to 22 percent of its overall revenue. Plarium is a privately owned free-to-play mobile, social and web-based game developer.

Aristocrat Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Trevor Croker commented, “The acquisition of Plarium allows Aristocrat to expand our addressable market into logical adjacent segments in the fast growing mobile gaming market,” The market is expected to expand from US$3.2 billion in the social casino segment to US$25.4 billion.  Croker continued to explain, “It also provides us with a stronger platform to target the US$43.6 billion overall mobile and web games market as growth segments,”

Plarium was founded in 2009 and began by developing games for the Eastern European casual gaming market.  In 2011, Plarium began developing Massively Multiplayer Online Strategy and then the firm launched Total Domination used by 20 million players. In 2014 was mentioned as one of the top global gaming companies on the Facebook platform and in the same year Plarium was named one of Europe's most promising start-ups.




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Global Online Gambling Market Expanding Fast

There are not many industries where the impact on the environment is small, the profits fairly good, some governments encourage it, yes there aren’t many like the online gambling business.

The 2016 Global $35.97 Billion Online Gambling Market is expected to grow to $66.59 Billion USD by 2020 but that growth is very geographic specific. It is interesting to note that the estimations are based on a legal framework and do not take into account the underground internet betting activity.

Where does all the money generated by these casinos go? The average profit suggested may not be very accurate and calculating the costs of running an internet casino is basic speculation. The biggest expense most online casinos have is software after all the games are virtual and are required to follow certain regulatory rules while remaining creative. It has been suggested that the Playtech, Microgaming and Net Entertainment platforms power sixty percent of the online casinos of course there are many other to fill the void that expands daily. These providers charge large to lease their software and they receive a 15% portion of the casinos win.

The operator’s expenses are many with most online casinos running what’s known as an affiliate program. IN order to remain on the best seller list in the internet betting business casinos need traffic directed to their particular web location. Most information portals advertise casinos in exchange for a commission on each player. There is the Cost Per Acquisition flat rate that the casino pays the affiliate for each player which signs on and deposits. Then there is revenue sharing or revshare where the casino pays the affiliate a percentage of the players’ losses.  

The list of costs and the factoring in of other regulatory and government fees and taxes the possibility of a casino thriving may look bleak but in fact around twenty percent of the casinos are making eighty percent of the profits.


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Bodog Founder Appointed ‘Special Economic Envoy’ to Antigua Barbuda

The name Calvin Ayre comes to mind whenever someone thinks of Bodog and the massive influence the man has had on the online gambling industry. The Canadian entrepreneur calls the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda his home now with dual citizenship and the recent appointment honours the man who has created a business that deals with the virtual gambling world. Calvin Ayre is being made the ‘Special Economic Envoy’ to Antigua Barbuda’s government.

The Bodog founder will be advising Antigua and Barbuda on policies relating to blockchain technology and digital currencies.  Antigua and Barbuda has a solid history for being progressive when it comes to adopting an edge in the international business community. In the 1990’s it became an early leader in offshore banking and Internet Gaming.  Now with this new appointment  Antigua Barbuda intends to do the same in the blockchain technology using the global private sector. The Calvin Ayre .com web site explained the reasons behind this move by the government. “His efforts are expected to re-invigorate the Internet Gaming industry in Antigua and Barbuda which, in 1999, provided more than US$100 million to the economy and employed over 2,000 people. Today, the online gaming business is worth in excess of US$37.9 billion annually with markets throughout Asia and Europe.”

The new Envoy commented, “I’ll continue to focus on being an online gaming industry analyst, a tech investor, and a philanthropist. Most importantly, I’m just going to continue enjoying life to the fullest,”

Mr. Ayre has also invested a great deal in the virtual currency industry with Mr. Ayre operating a tech company that handles Bitcoin transactions on the public ledger. A recent press released stated that Ayres’s business group “processes more Bitcoin transactions than any other platform in the world today.”

Bitcoin has not been universally adopted as legal in all countries but currently a Bitcoin is worth nearly three times as much as an ounce of gold.


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Australia Prohibits Online Poker and Casino Gambling

Australia has finally come to grips with a debate that has been ongoing for a long time now. The issue of online gambling legality has come to an end with the Australian Senate approving the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. The move which will ultimately place a nationwide ban on online casino and poker availability was contested by poker and gambling fans which testified on why the game should be excluded from the nationwide prohibition on internet betting.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, introduced the legislation that will ban unlicensed online casino and poker operators from focusing on the Australian market. There are no provisions in the gambling regulatory framework to allow for licensing of offshore online gambling operators.  

Sen. David Leyonhjelm has attempted to have online poker made exempt from the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill and that online poker should be regulated.

Sen. Leyonhjelm has maintained that online poker should be classified as a skill game and different from casino games. The Senator says a regulated online market with proper monitoring tools and a tax framework would be beneficial and better than a ban.

An attempt to block unlicensed online gambling operators has been made by some of Australia’s jurisdictions but they have found the approach to be ineffective. Operators however have found ways around the ISP blocking efforts. The new laws will come into effect within thirty days of the signing of the bill and it will see an exit from the Australian market by more poker rooms. Operators 888poker, 32Red, and Gaming Innovation Group have already made the move to leave the Australian online poker scene with an announcement expected that PokerStars will also withdraw services in the country.

The new rules are bound to cause some stress for avid poker and casino participants who will be looking for alternatives to access the activity.




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Greece Seeks To Restrict OPAP Growth

The international gambling industry has various jurisdictions that depend on revenue from the activity. Governments all over the world have for a long time been legislating changes to gambling laws to help facilitate stable economic growth from betting. Some have taken the time to observe the alarming trends that online gambling and excessive wagering can develop and have attempted to create more control and safeguards for the punter.

While this approach may appear to be working in some destinations there are other situations where the government realizes it may have gone too far in allowing some activities to be available.

One such situation that is an example is Greece which is allowing Europe’s fourth largest betting operator OPAP to introduce 35,000 video lottery terminals in the nation. OPAP said it will finish the installation of 16,500 terminals by May of 2018, while the suppliers IGT, Inspired Gaming, Scientific Games and Synot Group will provide the next 18,500 units.  

It was recently reported on the ekathimerini.com web site that the Finance Ministry has tabled a bill seeking to reduce that amount of VLTs to 25,000, so that there will be “a more effective supervision by the authorities” as well as giving citizens “smaller exposure to gambling.” The introduction and expansion of the gambling industry in Greece and Cyprus was started in January of 2017 and is still on track with 53 gaming halls opened as of June where a total of 1,355 machines were installed. OPAP offers sports betting and lottery products in as many as 5,750 retail outlets. OPAP is a virtual monopoly in Greece but it has had a difficult financial past with the Greek government, which raised OPAP’s tax obligation from 30 percent to 35 percent of gross gaming revenue.

The government has created a dilemma for OPAP which is forced to expand its offering and exposure while the authorities are trying to restrict it.

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Tasmania Debates Poker Machine Online Gambling Restrictions

The Tasmanian Parliament report on the gaming industry is expected by the end of September this year. The inquiry established a review of the gaming industry in Tasmania once the Federal Hotel’s exclusive license on poker machines expires in 2023. Tasmania’s welfare groups continue to advocate for a ban on poker machines in pubs and clubs in the state.

Social groups are arguing the placement of poker machines should be regulated to casinos.  Groups who want the use of poker machines to remain where they are debate that should the machines be removed the gamblers would be attracted to online gambling offerings. Federal Hotels and the hospitality industry said they believed online gaming to be a bigger threat. Managing director of Federal Hotels Greg Farrell revealed that the Treasury’s biennial study of the social and economic impacts of gambling  exposed the fact that seven per cent of Tasmanians have participated in online betting.

Social service organisations maintain that problem online gamblers were of little consequence in the  overall problem gambler situation. 

Meg Webb, Anglicare Tasmania Social Action and Research Centre manage, stated there was no evidence to suggest that restricting access to poker machines would change the interest of the troubled gambler to online betting, “There is no link between these two activities in any research,” Webb continued, “The motivations between these two forms of gambling are different.” “While participation in online gambling is growing, it only accounts for a small part of problem gambling activity in Tasmania.” “The clear and present danger is pokies.”

Brad Watson of the Salvation Army’s said unlike poker machines, online gambling was a private activity and the real effects are not well understood in Tasmania.  Poker machine gambling was identified as a concern by many of the clients who sought support for problems.  “It is our understanding that the demographic engaged in online gambling – suggested to be mostly younger, employed men – would be different to unemployed or socially isolated people seeking community and activity through centres such as a gaming venue,”


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Online Gambling Content Partnerships Expanding

The considerable number of online casinos and gambling web sites can be disruptive to some new players that become overwhelmed by the huge quantity of choices. Trying them all is not a good solution to this dilemma but reviewing the latest entries to the offerings can help somewhat. It is good practice even for seasoned online gambling fans to check out the review pages to see what the general opinion is on the casinos or web location in question.

One way to find out if the offering has the qualities you’re looking for is to check out what content providers the internet gambling site employs. There are many content producers and developers that create incredible games. An example is Greentube the interactive division of Novomatic that has recently launched virtual sports games provided by Leap Gaming. The Greentube Pro platform will host the virtual sports content.

Greentube North America, president of market development, Gabriel Cianchetto, commented,“In the US market virtual sports is becoming a big thing and this is the way we can offer virtual sports to our casino clients via the Greentube Pro platform.”

The chief executive of Leap Gaming, Yariv Lissauer, also said, “We are confident that our virtual sports suite will fit right into Greentube’s existing gaming portfolio and augment it tremendously.”

Content partnerships are common and have benefits with Greentube recently agreeing to a deal with Betsson. Greentube games will come on stream soon on the Betsson.com, Casinoeuro.com and Nordicbet.com and other Betsson platforms. The director of games of chance at Betsson, Andy Broughton Braithwaite, made this comment, “We’re delighted to be working with Greentube; they have a huge range of interactive games which have proved very popular for our customers, allowing us to further expand our already impressive casino portfolio.”

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