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Are illegal operators taking over the Swedish iGaming market?

The Swedish government will control the iGaming industry until 2021. Operators call for focus to be on illegal operators.


The online casino industry has rapidly expanded into a form of entertainment that may just be more popular than any other around the world.

That being said, gaming authorities have recently started pulling in the reigns trying to tighten their grip and regain control. The main objective is to provide online casino players with a safe and secure gaming environment at all times.

Unfortunately, Sweden may be on the verge of taking things a step too far, turning the rules into a noose for online casino operators.

Plans to extend temporary control of online casinos

The Swedish Government recently launched a consultation in which they discussed extending temporary controls for online casinos. The main reason for the extended control is to protect players as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

Reports have indicated that the case numbers for COVID-19 have continued to rise within the country. As such, the Minister for Social Security, Ardalan Shekarabi, believes that they need to act to reduce risks for vulnerable consumers in the field of gambling.

This includes weekly deposit limits of SEK5,000 (€490) which will remain in place until June 2021.

These controls were first imposed on the 2nd of July and were meant to be lifted at the end of the year. With the betting limits came a corresponding loss limit for all land-based slots within the country.

A requirement to set time limits on game time and session limits when playing at online casinos was also enforced. Bonuses have also been capped at SEK100 leading to much frustration for many players and operators.

Despite good intentions, these limitations and restrictions were met with heavy criticism from operators, bettors, and even other gambling authorities. The latter, stating that it’s impossible to impose such limits on all operators.

The Operator Association, Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), made the argument that these limitations will make untrusted gambling operators more alluring to players. This is exactly what has LeoVegas's president and CEO, Gustaf Hagman worried about.

Unlicensed operators live it up in the Swedish market

The heavy Swedish restrictions placed on licensed operators essentially leave the floor open for unlicensed operators to step in and take their place. Hagman recently warned about the impact these operators might have on self-excluded gamblers.

The CEO of one of the largest and top-rated online casinos in the industry expressed concerns regarding their growth during the last quarter. Hagman stated there was plenty of growth in other markets with Sweden being the only market where their development was disrupted by the unhindered growth of the unlicensed market.

In his statement, Hagman expressed his concern that many unlicensed operators are actively targeting Swedish players. Even players that have been barred by the self-exclusion tool, Spelpaus.

According to Hagman, this is not an empty statement but a fact that has been confirmed by a number of organisations providing help to problem gamblers. According to these organisations, many players seeking help are playing at unlicensed operators with ease.

For Sweden, this could lead to major problems as it is essentially cracking the entire foundation of their licensing system.

Sweden needs to urgently take a moment to reconsider their plans and take action against unlicensed operators instead of focusing on implementing more restrictions on licensed operators adhering to the already strict regulations in place.

If nothing is done about the illegal operators soon, the problem gambling numbers and illegal operators within the region will keep growing causing problems for both the Swedish government and the legal gaming operators within the region.

For licensed operators such as LeoVegas, the primary concern is that these illegal operators are curbing their growth within the market.

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