Sweden has long had a history of successful online gambling sites, but part of the industry is now under threat due to a change in regulations regarding money laundering and what bonus offers can be awarded to players. In fact, Spelinspektionen, the regulatory body for Swedish gaming, has already fined a number of online casinos for failing to comply with these brand new rules.
Who got caught and what does this mean for the industry?
Two of the casinos that have been caught out by the new regulations include Betway and Mandalorian Technologies, each of whom has received a fairly hefty fine due to this violation. In fact the penalty fees amounted to a whopping €1.3m (SEK14m) between the two companies. Since then, more casinos have been fined for similar offences, this time AG Communications, SkillOnNet and Betsson Casino.
With casinos and companies getting hit by such large fines, it's clear that Spelinspektionen is serious about keeping these newly developed gaming rules in force. But why and how did these sites all get penalized? Well, it turns out they had ongoing bonus offers remaining on their site from before the new regulations came into effect. By not removing them, and continuing to advertise these options, they were in violation.
Sweden's regulatory authority has undergone a little bit of a revamp offering up a whole host of new regulations, specifically those to do with gaming bonuses. The new gaming rules – which came into force on January 1, 2019 – state that any welcome bonuses or offers provided by online casinos must be limited to one per player. And Spelinspektionen has been very clear about this.
Previously, online casinos were able to offer multiple bonuses to casino players at any one time, but this has changed with the new rules. Many of the game providers argue that the rules are still unclear and leave things open to interpretation, which is why, months after the regulations were implemented, online casinos are still getting caught out by these new rules and getting fined.
With this new ruling – which affects cashback, discount offers and no/deposit bonuses – comes disturbance within the iGaming industry. Uncertainty as to what these regulations entirely mean has led some online casinos to remove themselves from the Swedish market entirely while the situation sorts itself out. Rizk and Guts have both suspended their operations within Sweden in order to avoid getting penalized for any bonus violations that they both might, inadvertently, be making.
With regard to this cessation of any bets being taken, the casinos are still going to be honouring any unpaid winning bets due to Swedish players, so this element is not an issue for them. It may seem preemptive, but these gaming sites cite the importance of compliance as a primary factor – fair play since Spelinspektionen seems to be handing out penalties at quite a rate.
However, the uncertainty and lack of clarity within these regulations has cast a pall over Swedish online gaming. Other companies may also remove their sites from Swedish players, reducing the number of available gaming options. However, Betsson for instance, is already appealing the decision, based on the fact that they believed they were complying due to the rather vague wording of the new regulations.
So what exactly is allowed in terms of casino bonuses? It appears that any double welcome bonus is now a no-go. Players can receive a single bonus, that's it. What is unclear is how this affects things like seasonal bonuses or those with specific time frames. In fact it seems that there's going to be a particular problem with simultaneously run bonus offers with potential additional penalties meted out.
It is becoming clear that gaming operators are only allowed to offer a bonus at the time of sign up. Those offering additional bonuses such as reload, additional free spins and the like, will be seen to be in violation of this new rule. It's pretty clear now from Spelinspektionen, but it seems that many casinos don't really like this new regulation. Why is it bothering so many casinos?
This new ruling flummoxes many online casinos, given how important bonuses are to online casinos and players alike. Bonuses help to make casinos stand out from their competition, enticing in new players to their sites. But it's not just a case of bringing them into their sites, but also of keeping them there to continue playing - and that's where the additional bonuses come in.
For players, being able to get their hands on a bonus will encourage them to play in the first place, possibly trying out different games that they might otherwise not have tried to play. It can also stimulate players to actually make a deposit in the casino or, alternatively, realise that they can play using the bonus only, getting a feel for the site without having to risk their own cash. The best site when it comes to casino bonuses in Sweden is bastacasinobonus.se. They have a system to grade bonuses from best to worst and assist visitors to find what they’re looking for fast.
As this new regulation is causing so many problems, it might be a good idea to look into why exactly these regulations have been put in place. According to Spelinspektionen, this new regulation is here to protect the players. It is also an attempt to minimize the negative side effects that so often come alongside online gambling. The limitation on bonuses is seen to aid this endeavour.
By reducing the number of bonuses offered per player, it can reduce problem gambling and the social and economic damage that can happen to a player that gets in too deep. Because of this, it is unlikely that we'll see Spelinspektionen do a full 180 on this ruling, as the regulatory body has declared their intent to keep focusing on this area, sending out information to all online casinos regarding this fact.
But for players, all this isn't so bad. By limiting each casino to just one bonus per player, the wagering requirements can decrease on that bonus. Wagering requirements are often seen as one of the bad points about bonuses as these often have to be fulfilled if the player is going to be able to retrieve any of winnings they might have made from any bonus that they used.
With this inability to offer more than one bonus, players are likely to see a vast reduction in casino spam – after all, what can the casino message about when there are no more bonuses to be offered? No more texts, e-mails or phone calls really could be one of the biggest plus points for players in this entire change up. Moreover, the new regulation protects players from negative and destructive gambling practices.
Without being able to offer multiple bonuses, casinos will have to find new ways to entice players to their site. One of the best ways will be to reduce those wagering requirements. Lower requirements are always more attractive to players as they make it more likely that they can get hold of any winnings. But there are other methods online casinos can use to pique player interest. Some casinos have removed the sign-up bonus offering bonuses later on, while others have opted for no deposit, risk-free casino bonuses instead. Some simply reward with more cash, or spins, on sign-up.
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