Sweden state-run gambling ops boosted ad spending in 2019


sweden-gambling-advertising-spending-2019Online gambling operators were once again among Sweden’s top-spending advertisers in 2019, while Sweden’s advertising watchdog has pulled a Unibet ad for misleading claims.

On Tuesday, Swedish media revealed Kantar Sifo data ranking the top-20 companies in terms of 2019 advertising spending. Five gambling operators made this list, led by online gambling operator Cherry AB, which ranked second with SEK914.2m (US$95.3m), behind only supermarket giant ICA at SEK1.07b.

Cherry’s 2019 spending marked a nearly 35% decline from 2018’s advertising outlay. Similarly, Kindred Group, which ranked third on the 2019 list with SEK912.7m, reduced its spending by 5.2% from 2018. The state-run Svenska Spel, which ranked fifth with SEK659.8m, bucked this trend, boosting its spending by 17.4% from 2018.

A similar growth phenomenon was observed with the state-run horserace betting monopoly ATG, which boosted ad spend by 21.1% to SEK395.5m (13th place), while the Postcode Lottery increased spending by 10.5% to SEK319.3m (18th place). LeoVegas, the only other gambling operator on the 2018 list, failed to make the 2019 cut.

Swedish-licensed online gambling operators’ advertising has come under increased criticism in recent years, and the government is currently conducting a study to determine whether to impose a “total or partial ban on gambling advertising.” The government plans to release the findings of its study in March.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Reklamombudsmannen (RO) advertising watchdog recently rapped Kindred Group’s knuckles for running misleading promos. The ads, which featured football manager Glenn Hysén, claimed that Kindred’s flagship Unibet brand’s casino games offered returns to players that were the “highest in Sweden” at 98% for select games.

A disgruntled viewer filed a complaint, noting that the Storspelare.com site offered similar rates of return, making Unibet’s claims misleading. Kindred countered that Storspelare is one of its own brands, and that the claims in the Unibet promo applied to a number of its brands, including the female-focused Maria Casino.

The RO opinion board sided with the complainant, noting that while Kindred’s multi-brand claim was spelled out in its terms and conditions, the average viewer of the Unibet ad was likely to perceive the 98% claim as stating that no other online casino matched or exceeded that rate of return.

The RO also unanimously ruled that Kindred had failed to substantiate its claim that no other online casino had a higher repayment rate. As such, the ad was found to violate Article 5 of the International Chamber of Commerce’s rules for advertising and marketing communication, which requires ad claims to be valid and not misleading.