Online gambling looking especially bright in Sweden
At MegaMoolah.com we're always looking for examples of the good things that can happen when the powers that be loosen the restrictions previously placed on gambling operations.
As such, we are thrilled to watch what is currently going on in Sweden thanks to a liberalisation of that country's gambling regulations and a willingness to open the existing market to new players.
To say that gambling is looking especially bright in Sweden is to state the obvious. A few weeks ago, we published a post on SureWinner.com encapsulating some of the most important online gambling news stories from around the world. Sweden made that post as we reported on the country's regulating authority, soon to be renamed Spelinspektionen, churning out new licences in advance of a 1 January (2018) implementation of new regulations.
The government agency has upped the ante, so to speak, by announcing a new round of licences just issued in mid-December. At the pace they are moving, there is no telling how many licences will be issued by the start of 2019. How many more will be issued within 2019 and beyond?
Four new licensees
Four new licensees have been granted permission to begin operating in Sweden. These include Dumarca Gaming, Bayton Ltd, Genesis Global Ltd and Enlabs AB. With these four licences alone, the Swedish market expands by a minimum of around 19 gambling websites.
Of special interest is the Enlabs licence. Not only are they approved to run online gambling in a traditional sense, they will also be offering sports betting as well. The latter part of the licence reflects a greater appreciation for sports book throughout most of Europe.
All this activity is directly related to the Swedish government's desire to end the monopolisation of that country's gambling market, which has long been dominated by local players. The government has specifically targeted international operators with their new regulations. The hope is for greater competition that will ultimately result in a stronger market for the Swedish industry.
New AML regulations
Regulators in Sweden have also introduced new anti-money laundering (AML) rules as a companion to more liberal licencing. The rules act as regulatory guidance that dictate how the Swedish government expects new licensees to conduct business.
While comprehensive AML rules are generally accepted as necessary in the online gambling arena, not all operators are on board with them. On the same day Sweden announced their new rules, a domestic operator appealed an earlier government ruling against one of their land-based casinos. The government had fined the operator for "AML failures".
Job growth in the gambling industry
What they are doing in Sweden is probably a good thing for both the gambling industry and online gamblers. It is also good for the Swedish workforce. Companies are hiring to keep up with the demand already. We can only imagine how much tighter the labor market will be once the newly licenced operators open shop in mid-2019.
According to Bloomberg, one domestic online gambling operator is already so busy that they are having to expand into larger space. In addition, Kindred Group Plc says their total workforce could expand by as much as 14% in 2019. They expect their revenues to grow by double digits as well.
The company already employs 1,425 people worldwide. They expect their Stockholm staff to grow from 300 to as many as 400 next year source. A staff of 700 is not out of the question a few years after that. Unfortunately, Kindred is having a hard time recruiting top talent.
What's the problem? They are competing with other tech giants like Google and Spotify. Making matters worse is the fact that their new Stockholm offices will be located in a local technology cluster where they will be surrounded by the very companies they are competing with. It is going to make for an interesting labor market throughout 2019 and beyond.
On a positive note, not having enough talent to keep up with growth is a good problem to have. It shows that the company is growing faster than its current capacity to manage. We have no doubt Kindred will find the talent they need one way or another.
Get out of the way and see what happens
Regular visitors to MegaMoolah.com are intimately familiar with how we feel about online gambling. We are in favour of it in every respect. We are also very much in favour of government regulators getting out of the way. What is happening in Sweden right now is a demonstration of what happens when they do.
The reality of gambling in that it has been occurring since the earliest periods of recorded human history. It is not as though human beings didn't gamble prior to the invention of the slot machine. They did. They will continue doing so for as long as we roam the earth.
It is understandable that regulators would have concerns over money laundering, problem gambling, and a small number of other problems related to industry growth. But it is odd that so many try so hard to regulate gambling while ignoring other legal practices that do far more harm.
The fact that people have gambled throughout human history suggests that a better approach is to regulate it as little as possible so as to allow the market to flourish. Sweden has figured that out to some degree. They have finally figured out that market growth requires loosening regulations to bring an end to domestic monopolies. Just the decision to open up online gambling to international players has done wonders for the industry in Sweden.
What it means to operators
So, what does the new liberalisation of gambling rules in Sweden mean to operators? A number of things. First and foremost, it means more competition in a market that has heretofore been closed. And where there are more operators, there is more incentive to innovate. That brings us to the second point.
We expect operators licensed in Sweden to immediately start looking for creative ways to differentiate themselves. Some will innovate by embracing new payment methods, like cryptocurrency. Others will contract with game platforms to come up with new titles. Still others are going to put more time and effort into sports betting.
Game developers will respond by coming up with new innovations of their own. No one knows what those innovations look like yet, but there is little doubt they are coming. Perhaps developers will figure out how to make live games even more interactive than they currently are. Perhaps they will introduce new rules to traditional table games and transition 3D slot games into a virtual reality experience.
Regardless of what it looks like, one thing is for certain: competition always spurs innovation. Why? Because every competitor wants to be the best. Every game developer wants to be the one that operators rely on for the gaming platforms so that they are consciously trying to push the envelope at every turn. That is what competition does.
What it means to gamblers
A more liberal regulatory environment means good things for gamblers too. In fact, the gamblers that keep the slots moving and the roulette wheel spinning are the main beneficiaries of increased competition and innovation. They get more opportunities to play exciting new titles they have never seen before. They get more chances to win, more opportunities to learn the finer points of games like blackjack and poker, and more websites to choose from.
The only question at this point is how regulatory liberalisation will affect bitcoin gambling. In other words, the number of online operations now accepting cryptocurrency deposits is steadily growing. But will that growth balloon in Sweden in line with the number of new licences being offered? Only time will tell.
Bitcoin and its cryptocurrency cousins seem like the perfect platform for making deposits online. Cryptocurrency is fast, secure, efficient, and completely decentralised. Gamblers and online operators can transact business among themselves without the need for any outside interference. That is ultimately a good thing.
On the other hand, cryptocurrency has not been around as long as gambling. Regulators in many countries are now just beginning to warm up to the idea of online gambling in general, but many of them are not quite there yet with cryptocurrency. How long it will take to get them there is anyone's guess.
In the meantime, those operators already accepting cryptocurrency are steadily gaining a following. How do we know? Just look around. Here at MegaMoolah.com, you can find information about a casino that accepts only bitcoin to play Mega Moolah, or via third-party such as Skrill and Neteller. We are not the only site publishing such information. There are dozens of others.
That's an indication that bitcoin casinos are at least holding their own. If they can weather this initial period of adoption, there's no telling how well they can do in the future. And if government regulators begin embracing cryptocurrency alongside more liberal gambling regulations, who knows?
Perhaps a decade from now playing Mega Moolah with your favourite alt-coin will be the norm. Perhaps online operators will eventually stop accepting fiat transactions altogether. If that is the case, we will probably be able to look back on loosening regulations and the subsequent competition it stimulates as being responsible.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.
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