Gustaf Hagman talks about LeoVegas’ strategy in the new Sweden


Sweden’s new regulatory environment, established on January 1, 2019, has meant a learning curve for many operators. LeoVegas, as an established giant in the Swedish gambling industry, has done well under the new rules, and Gustaf Hagman, CEO of the operator, joined our Becky Liggero Fontana to talk about how the company has succeeded, and what advice he’d have to other operators and jurisdictions.

Hagman admits that 2019 wasn’t all peaches and cream, but they figured out the new rules pretty quickly. “I think it’s been several years when they are striving to get the regulation in place, and for LeoVegas, I guess it started out a little bit turbulent in the beginning of the last year,” Hagman said. “But then the sky cleared and we’re doing really well. We are the clear market leader in Sweden, and we are the number one brand in Sweden when it comes to online casinos as well.”

The way LeoVegas has stayed within the rules has been pretty simple, actually. “I think that the secret behind that is to have a have a really good compliance team working locally together with the marketing team and together with the tech compliance as well,” he said. “So you have all those three sort of fundamentals in place in order to get a really good customer journey, but also, player protection, of course.”

The new Swedish regulatory environment has impressed Hagman, and he said they have learned from the best. “Well I think the Swedish regulation has looked a lot at the Danish one and, at some extent, to the U.K. of course,” he said. “U.K. is sort of leading the compliance in the regulator world, with being sort of most forefront country when it comes to play protection and everything, and the Nordic countries are very data-driven. So we have a system for player protection, which is really good in Sweden.

Of course, there are other ways to regulate gambling, but Hagman is critical of those that put in a high cost to enter the market. “I think we look at Spain, I think it’s a little bit interesting that you put kind of high barriers to entry, Spain, because you have to put up 2 million euros for every vertical in order to get a license,” he noted. “That’s a bank guarantee though, but if you like to run both sports and casino, that’s 4 million euros. Meaning that a small operator or maybe operator that hasn’t really the same kind of mindset as the larger ones when it comes to play protection, they can’t afford it really. That’s also, I think, could be a good thing of course because you get a decent amount of operators, you still get a good competition within the country, but you get rid of all the smaller ones, which might not have the ability to take care of the customers. If you look at Europe, 80 – 85% the different regulated countries are quite the same and they’re the same kind of mindset when it comes to player protection, which is most important for them, but they still a lot of alignment that I think we should do.”

With regulators keenly focused on player protection, Hagman was happy to share how LeoVegas accomplished that from their side. “Well it’s continuous with a data-driven approach, looking into all our players at all times, detecting patterns, both in times of how much time they’re spending on site and money, and in general the pattern, because that’s how you find out if it’s on its way to become a little bit of unsound behavior, so to speak, when it comes to gaming,” he said. “I think the more we learn and the more data we collect, the better way will be at detecting these players very early, which is important for all of us.”

Finally, Liggero Fontana asked if Hagman could share his look ahead to 2020. While they were speaking early in the year, before the effects of COVID-19 became clear, it seems like a strategy that can still thrive. “Last year, 2019, I declared to be the year of the casino, internally, and really focused on the casino side,” heh said. “We also position ourselves as King of Casino, both internally but extremely, very much externally as well. This year, 2020, we will focus on the greatest gaming experience, meaning that we will make sure that all our customers has the greatest gaming experience at LeoVegas, so that’s what we’ll focus on.”