Big changes came to the regulated Swedish market this year, and it’s created plenty of unforeseen change. To discuss how Betsson AB is navigating the new regime, Pontus Lindwall, CEO of the operator, joined our Becky Liggero recently.
While operators knew that things would change when Sweden’s new regulatory regime took over, they didn’t quite know how much. “It’s like a black box that would open up,” he said. “We don’t know anything from January 1, 2019. And then it happened, and it was quite a shock to all of us and our colleagues, because there was quite big change in the industry actually.”
So what have those changes been? Four potentially huge impacts to the bottom line. “First of all, there was a tax of 18%, but we’re used to that because we’re in other regulated markets as well,” he noted. “Then there was limitations on the games themselves and the offerings, and that kind of brought down the revenues from the market. And then there were two new strong competitors, Svenkska Spel and ATG, the state owned lottery and horse racing organization. They came in, and they have strong brands and strong muscles. So they have made an impact as well.
Finally, while it’s done for the good of the people, Lindwall can’t help but note that the new responsible gaming rules have an impact. “And then we have something called Speilpaus, which is a central self-exclusion system,” he said. “Which means that if a player wants to self-exclude from Betsson for instance, than he/she gets self-excluded from all the sites that are licensed in Sweden. Which is quite effective, but it really has an impact on the revenues. So these are the major changes.”
It’s not easy to forecast out just yet who will survive the changes, but certainly some won’t be around in a few years. “We just going to have to keep on struggling and I think that we will see 12 to 24 long period from the regulation came into force until the market has stabilized,” he explained. “Today we have like 80 different brands licensed on the market, and I think that will go down eventually. So the market is in some kind of state of change.”
Liggero asked Lindwall what questions he’s receiving most, as a notable representative from Sweden. “It’s about where does Betsson sit in the consolidation question,” he replied. “Because obviously, in the U.K., there’s been a lot of consolidation and the landscape has changed a bit, so that’s one question I get. And then I get questioned about how is Sweden, and I give this story to everybody. That’s the two main topics I would say.”