Swedish Parliamentary Committee Terms Minister’s Claims on Casinos Unfounded

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A Constitutional Committee formed by the the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, has rejected the the claims of Minister Ardalan Shekarabi that gambling at online casinos would have increased during the covid-19 pandemic.

Temporary restrictions were enforced on casinos functioning on several occasions, following the minister’s claim.

The Constitution Committee concluded:

“The review has also included Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi’s (S) statement on the basis for temporary gambling regulations. It has become clear that the Minister has based his statement on information that does not allow for a definite conclusion as to whether gambling had increased or not. The Minister is responsible for his opinions and also for the information he provides being correct.”

Gustaf Hoffstedt, is the Secretary General of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) criticised the minister and urged the government to remove the restrictions:

“Everyone has known that there was no basis for the statement about the alleged increased online casino gambling. It is welcome that the Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee now confirms that. Ministers must have a basis for their statements, it is not enough to say things just because it fits into the policy you want to pursue. The Minister’s statements about the alleged but unfounded increase in online casinos during the pandemic are the main reason why this form of gambling is still subject to very strict temporary restrictions. The next step must reasonably be for the government to quickly end these restrictions.”


Svenska Spel Becomes Main Sponsor of Sweden’s National Hockey Leagues

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Svenska Spel, the state-owned gambling operator in Sweden, has become the main sponsor of the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL), the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and the Hockey Allsvenskan (HA).

The company singed a five-year agreement which will come into force on July 1, 2021.

Patrik Hofbauer, Svenska Spel President and CEO, said: “As Sweden’s largest sports sponsor from grassroots to elite, we are very happy and proud of the new agreement with SDHL, SHL and HA.

“All leagues see great value in the fact we are now making Swedish hockey more equal. It will strengthen Swedish hockey. The new agreement also focuses on the fact that together with the leagues we can make a major preventive effort to counteract game problems and match-fixing.”

Jenny Silfverstrand, Swedish Hockey League CEO, added: “Svenska Spel has a long-standing and large commitment to Swedish ice hockey. Therefore, it feels very good that we can now once again work together to take Swedish ice hockey forward. We are proud and happy to contribute to a collaboration that invests extra in gender equality in Swedish ice hockey.”


BOS Claims Swedish Banking Institutions Have Suspended Services Provided to Licensed Gambling Operators

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Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of the Swedish trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), has claimed that all of the country’s major banking institutions have suspended services they provide to licensed gambling operators.

BOS said that “all major Nordic banks” – including SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, Handelsbanken, DNB Nor and Danske Bank – stopped providing services to Swedish-licensed gambling operators at some point this year.

Claiming this is in violation of Swedish law, Hoffstedt has filed a complaint to the country’s Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen).

Most of these banks, Hoffstedt said, cited internal risk assessments or Sweden’s Anti-Money Laundering Act (PTL) as the reasons for account closures. The BOS secretary-general added that “in some cases the banks have not stated any reason at all”.

“As far as I am aware, no concrete justification for the dismissals and banks’ assessment has been provided in any case,” Hoffstedt said.

Hoffstedt added that gambling operators cannot function without banking services.

“Online gambling companies are, as stated above, dependent on basic financial infrastructure in the form of banking and payment services to conduct their business,” he explained. “This requires [them] to be able to store customers’ funds as well as receive deposits and make payments to customers.”

He added that the suspension of services meant that operators could no longer use Bank-ID, used to verify players’ identities. This meant they had lost access to a tool that was vital for fighting fraud and money laundering, Hoffstedt.

“Without access to the Bank-ID system, online gambling companies need to use alternative solutions to identify their customers. These solutions risk being neither as effective for companies nor as safe for users,” he explained.

Swedish Banks also provide the Swish payment service, which Hoffstedt said was also “very important” for operators.

Hoffstedt said that the banks’ decisions had worsened operating conditions for the country’s igaming licensees, as well as counteracting the goals of the Gambling Act.

He went as far as arguing that the actions were illegal.

Hoffstedt said banks have a contractual obligation to continue to provide banking services to these customers, unless there is a clear reason to break this agreement. Only in incidents where continuing to provide banking services would violate the PTL, or if the banking customer had committed misconduct, could agreements be broken, he claimed.

While Hoffstedt noted that banks may terminate agreements if they suspect a customer has connections to money laundering, he pointed out the PTL made clear that these assessments are at the customer level. They can, therefore, not be applied on a sweeping basis to a legal industry.

“Given that a large proportion of BOS members also received notice or notice of termination from the banks – all with general and overarching references to the risk of money laundering in the business – it seems obvious that the basis for the dismissals is a general business policy decision rather than a valid application of PTL,” he said.

“Under these circumstances, there is no possibility for the banks to deviate from their contractual obligation.”

BOS requested a dialogue with the Financial Supervisory Authority and said the regulator “should initiate a supervisory investigation of the banks’ handling and possibly intervene against the banks”.

SEB – one of the banks mentioned by BOS – however, argued it was not systematically ending relationships with gambling operators but rather examined the risk for every client on an individual basis.

“We always make an individual assessment of individual client relationships,“ SEB said. “When it comes to gambling companies, we generally have a cautious approach based on the raised risk level, not least connected to risks relating to money laundering and financial crime.”

Danske Bank, meanwhile, denied it had a policy specifically preventing gambling businesses from operating, but did say these businesses undergo a stricter screening process.

“Danske Bank does not exclude banking services for gambling operations as such,” Danske Bank said. “However, our assessment is that the gambling industry in general is associated with high risk and due to that we have tailored screening principles to ensure that the companies operate responsibly.

“In a case where a specific gambling client does not meet the requirements of our KYC-process or ESG-assessment, the ultimate consequence could be that we limit our offerings or refrain from enter into a business relationship.”


Better Collective acquires Rekatochklart.com to strengthen market position in Sweden

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Better Collective strengthens its position in the Swedish sports betting market by acquiring online sports betting media platform, Rekatochklart.com for 3.8 mEUR. 

The global sports betting media group, Better Collective, today announced that it invests further in the Swedish sports betting market by acquiring the online sports betting media Rekatochklart.com. Rekatochlart.com was founded in 2008 and is a leading Swedish online community where sports bettors and tips experts gather to share betting tips and analysis for upcoming sports events. In 2020, the platform generated annual revenue of approx 1.2 mEUR (12 mSEK), and operating earnings (EBITA) of approx 0.9 mEUR (8.9mSEK).

The purchase price was agreed to 3.8 mEUR (40 mSEK) and was paid in cash at closing. The acquisition was completed as an asset purchase from Win&Fun Media Ltd. and Better Collective will consolidate the acquired asset into its group accounts as of now. Rekatochklart.com will be managed by the Better Collective’s Sweden division.

Jesper Søgaard, Co-founder and CEO of Better Collective, says:

“It is a great pleasure to welcome Rekatochklart.com to Better Collective. With its strong brand and community of tipsters, Rekatochklart.com is a perfect supplement to our business and a strategically important step for us in strengthening our position in Sweden. In a year packed with major international sports events like the EURO 2021, the Olympic Games and the Ice Hockey World Championship 2021, Rekatochklart.com will enable us to engage with many more sports fans in the Swedish market.”

Jens Carlsson, Founder of Rekatochklart, says:

“I am both excited and proud that we have been able to conclude the sale of our platform to Better Collective. This is a testament to the strength of our site and vibrant community of tipsters and gambling experts in Sweden. We become part of a well-managed and responsible company with a strong tradition for investing in its people and platforms – a company with a solid track record, when it comes to further developing sites and communities like Rekatochklart.com.”

The former owners of Rekatochklart.com, Jens Carlsson and Ulrik Sandebäck, will continue in consultancy positions in the Better Collective Sweden division.

In 2018, Better Collective invested 30 mEUR in the Swedish market by acquiring a network of Swedish sports betting media platforms such as speltips.se. With the acquisition of Rekatochklart.com, Better Collective now further strengthens its position in the market.


Swedish Football Association partners with Sportradar Integrity Services

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The Swedish Football Association (SvFF) has today signed an agreement with Sportradar Integrity Services – the world’s leading supplier of sports integrity solutions – to monitor and safeguard the integrity of its domestic football competitions.

Under the agreement, Sportradar will monitor over 2,000 matches from the Swedish Ettan, Division 2, U21 Allsvenskan, U19 Allsvenskan, and club friendlies involving Swedish teams during the 2021 season, using its market leading bet monitoring solution, the Fraud Detection System (FDS). Sportradar has previously supported the SvFF with its ongoing investigation into a former Allsvenskan player, and under this agreement, the SvFF will again be able to call upon Sportradar’s Intelligence & Investigation Services during the term of the partnership.

Johan Claesson, SvFF Integrity Officer said: “We are taking all the necessary steps to safeguard our game, and by bringing Sportradar Integrity Services on board to monitor our competitions, we now have valuable global oversight of betting markets through their integrity specialists. By also adding their Intelligence & Investigation Services to our integrity programme, we are confident that we will gain an extra layer of visibility and insight into potential integrity risks, as we have already witnessed through collaboration on a current investigation.”


Sweden’s Spelinspektionen Fines Bet365 Over Bets on Football Friendly

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The Swedish gaming regulator Spelinspektionen has fined Bet365 operator Hillside Sports SEK1m (€98,000) and issued it a warning for offering bets on a football friendly in which most players were aged under 18.

Bet365 had offered odds on a training match played between Kronängs IF and Mariedals IK on March 28, 2020.

Spelinspektionen’s review of the match found that 24 of the 34 participants were under 18, meaning that Bet365 breached Chapter 8 section 2.2 of the Swedish Gambling Act, which prohibits betting on sports events when the majority of participants are under 18 years of age.

Hillside said it had believed it could offer bets because the fixture was not specifically an underage match. It said it took immediate action to avoid offering odds on similar matches in the future, which included a decision to stop offering bets on lower-division friendlies.

It said: “The fact that a majority of the players then turned out to be under 18 years was an unfortunate coincidence that could have occurred in any senior league at any time and which could not be foreseen.”

Bets on the match in question had been voided, it said.

Spelinspektionen said the Swedish Gambling Act clearly prohibited betting on the match and that the breach was serious but accepted that it was a one-off incident that the operator had sought to correct.

Hillside argued that any fine be based on its Swedish revenue, but Spelinspektionen insisted that the penalty should be based on its stakes from Sweden, which totalled SEK11.2m for 2019.


Forsman & Bodenfors Wins Svenska Spel Contract

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Svenska Spel has appointed Forsman & Bodenfors as its new lead advertising agency for “strategic and creative marketing.”

The Swedish state-owned lottery and sports betting operator launched an agency tender at the start of the year, reviewing its current strategic marketing and brand development frameworks.

“We are very happy to have Forsman & Bodenfors as our partner. With their experience in branding, advertising and with a corporate culture that suits us, they will be a valuable partner for us,” Anna Ekström, Head of Marketing Activation at Svenska Spel, said.

As lead creative agency, Forsman & Bodenfors will take charge of developing the firm’s 2021 Tokyo Olympic campaigns, which will see Svenska Spel serve as principal sponsor of the Swedish Olympic Committee’s athlete development programme.

“Svenska Spel is an iconic Swedish brand. They stand for both joy and excitement in everyday life, at the same time as they take great social responsibility. It is inspiring to see their great commitment to supporting youth sports and club life, and their concrete actions to prevent gambling addiction. We are very much looking forward to working together,” Jerk Zander, Senior Account Director of Forsman & Bodenfors, said.


LeoVegas is launching a new campaign concept and introducing “Leo” as the company’s Chief Entertainment Officer.

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For the first time, LeoVegas is launching a global marketing campaign with a new commercial concept. With this new concept, the company will create unified communication, consistent across all markets. The new concept will take place at LeoVegas’ fictitious headquarters in the LeoUniverse. This will be rolled out with localised adaptations during the first quarter of 2021.

This spring, the gaming company LeoVegas is launching a global marketing campaign. In connection with this, the company will introduce a completely new commercial concept; LeoUniverse, where the company’s fictitious Chief Entertainment Officer, Leo, works at the company’s headquarters. With the help of humour and recognition of everyday life, LeoVegas creates a commercial series that combines laughter and entertainment in high-quality production.

”Offering the best customer experience starts with our marketing. With this new concept, we invite our customers to a completely new ’LeoUniverse’, a world filled with entertainment, excitement, and humour. We will get to know several new characters but also meet familiar faces from our most popular games”, explained Sarah Krusell, Marketing Production Director at LeoVegas.

Working to develop the new global creative concept for LeoVegas it became clear that the heart of their offering is highly aligned with the entertainment industry. And obviously, their brand universe should be an extension of that feeling”, states Lars Samuelsen, Creative Chairman at the advertising agency Uncle Grey.

With this new concept, the company’s marketing communications will be unified across all markets whilst also being adapted to fit the local needs and regulations of each market.

”Our industry has historically not maintained a high enough level when it comes to advertising and marketing. Instead of being the loudest, we hope to now be able to introduce a concept that people actually appreciate and find entertaining. With more relevant content, we can responsibly build an entertaining brand”, added Sarah Krusell.

The concept will be used across all markets, channels and all media formats and will continue to position LeoVegas as a responsible brand that offers entertainment and excitement in a safe environment.

The LeoUniverse concept has been developed and produced together with the award-winning Copenhagen based advertising agency; Uncle Grey. The campaign will initially be broadcast on TV in Denmark and Sweden and will be followed up by digital campaigns across a variety of channels.


Swedish Gambling Regulator Finds Many Licensee Websites Still Lacks RG Information

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Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has found that many licensee websites still lacks RG information.

The regulator said some improvements had taken place since the last survey, which took place in 2019 and whose results were published in April 2020, but further work was still required from operators to prevent regulatory intervention.

It pointed out that it is the licensees’ responsibility to ensure they keep up to date with the relevant regulatory requirements, and that the shortcomings noted in the survey may lead to intervention from the regulator.

Most of the sites reviewed showed responsible gambling logos in both logged-out and logged-in mode, and had a sufficient reference to an independent gambling helpline, unlike in previous reports, the regulator said.

It emphasised that such features are of great importance for consumer protection and that all websites licensed for online gaming must meet these requirements.

However, it said that many of the websites lacked sufficient information about the licensee, for example, several did not have a telephone number and email address listed. Many of the websites also lacked information on licence durations, and failed to state that Spelinspektionen is both a licensing and supervisory authority.


ATG Sues Svenska Spel for Trade Mark Infringement

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AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) has launched a lawsuit against Swedish operator Svenska Spel over alleged trademark infringement in relation to betting on horseracing.

“Protecting our brands is part of our duty to our owners Svensk Travsport and Svensk Galopp, as well as all tens of thousands in the country whose industry is equestrian. ATG is the only gambling company that contributes to the welfare of equestrian sport. So it is about ensuring the future supply of the Swedish equestrian sport,” Hasse Lord Skarplöth, CEO of ATG, said.

“The lawsuit concerns, among other things, the revocation of a trademark due to a violation of ATG’s company name and was filed with the Patent and Market Court of the Stockholm District Court,” writes the gaming company.

ATG asks the court to prohibit Svenska Spel from using “Trotting & Gallop” for a fine of one million kroner.

Svenska Spel is also required to pay ATG for “the use of the company name” Aktiebolaget Trav och Galopp “in business operations and compensation for further damage caused by the violation of ATG.”