This Friday, the national team presidents for the Swedish Sports Confederation, thee Swedish Football Association and the Swedish Ice Hockey Association wrote an editorial in DI demanding limitations regarding the amounts of markets offered by gaming companies. Erik Skarp, CEO and founder of Bethard replied by saying “We’re removing all possibilities to play on lower divisions and youth games from our product offering.”

From my end I can see that the debate – and extensive coverage – of the international gaming companied has started for real in Sweden before the upcoming limiting regulations. It’s very positive and maybe one of the most important things regarding the new regulations.

That we move from a reality where all gaming companies not named Svenska Spel and ATG by definition are seen as “suspicious” or lacking the will to work for responsible gaming environments and responsible gaming overall, to that instead scrutinize all participants on the same terms and with the same attitude.

That all actors will be forced to take responsibility for their business, company by company, instead of it being as today, split into a good side and a bad side. That system and that demand is what in the end will profit the consumers and increase gaming security – regardless the name of the company. The debate about gaming responsibility and security has up to now mostly been about the gaming companies internal control systems, marketing and their way of handling players with difficulties – and sure, that’s the core to create safer gaming environments and just like most other companies, we have things to improve. And we do. Not because we must, but because we want to.

The wheels are put into motion and personally I think it will be clear that the most responsible companies aren’t necessarily any of the old monopoly ones. On an equal playing field, it will be the internal moral of the company that determines that question.

But besides this, there is another part when looking at gaming responsibility – the markets that are offered. It was with great interest I took part of the argumentative article written by the three national team presidents Björn Eriksson, Karl-Erik Nilsson and Ander Larsson. They’re raising an important aspect of this complex issue and I found myself nodding and humming while I read it.

The authors of the article have in a good way captured the essence of the discussions we’ve been having internally for a longer time. The discussion concerning the fact that maybe we’ve all let the gaming supply grow to unhealthy levels. Maybe the industry has contributed to create an arena for putting pressure on youths and active players in the lower divisions?

 We have with increasing worry seen that this area is beginning to become a problem. At the same time, I think that we up until now have been approaching the issue in the wrong way. We have tried to restrain it by limiting the stakes on these markets to make the area less attractive for the ones trying to influence the games and the players.

I feel that limiting probably isn’t a strong enough measure to solve the problem, at the same time as it creates irritation among the players that can’t accept that they can bet bigger amounts on the games in the highest divisions, but much less on the lower.

In reality this is an insecurity from our end where we don’t always feel a hundred percent sure that we can guarantee that everything is being handled correctly in these contexts. The substance of this is really the following: We haven’t fixed the problem for the players and we’ve also created a problem of our own with a number of unhappy customers.

In the light of all this I think it is time to act. We are a privately owned company and we don’t need to firmly establish decisions regarding changes in a longer process like several of our listed competitors. We can act fast and then we should.

That’s why we’ve decided to remove all options to play on the lower divisions, on youth games as well as on youth championships from our supply. This will happen with immediate effect.

So, where will we draw the line? We’ll start with the youth sports and listen to the recommendations from the presidents of the national federations and close all markets on levels below Under-21, then we have a good margin towards the 18 years limit that’s proposed.  Regarding play on games in the lower divisions, there’s a big difference between countries and sports so we will make changes depending on each individual scenario.

Our experience is that the most exposed playing objects are the ones with a small audience and small or none medial coverage. Hence, in Sweden we start to remove all markets for divisions lower than the 21 in Sweden on football, and under Hockeyettan when it comes to ice-hockey.

For other sports and markets we will make assessments regarding where to draw the line and try to apply the change to the entire product range.  Then we’ll continhue with making ongoing evaluations. If we need to set an even harder limit we will do so.

All gaming companies have a responsibility to protect the consumers from games that aren’t safe. From games where criminal people or organizations pressure the involved to influence results or separate events. We want to take part in initiating a necessary change.

We may well be “Zlatan’s gaming company” and we are growing fast, but we are not yet big enough to create a change on our own. We would therefore like to call on our competitors and branch colleagues to join us in this.

It is not about winning political brownie points. It is simply about common sense and an issue we all should have tackled a long time ago.

Full link to article: https://www.di.se/debatt/vi-begransar-vart-spelutbud/
Article written by the associations: https://www.di.se/debatt/begransa-livebettingen/