In some countries, there is no online gaming competition. Sweden is one of them, allowing Svenska Spel to be the only licensed online gaming operator in the country.
While that may seem to be a choice based solely on profit, Svenska Spel made a move that surprised many in the global gaming world. The company refused to use some of the typical player-enticing promotions and bonus programs in lieu of a responsible gaming program that would attempt to tackle a problem all too common with online gamblers.
On the other hand, some reports have asserted that the monopoly, which originally did offer the aforementioned promotions and bonuses, removed them due to the threat of sanctions from the European Commission. As a monopoly, Svenska Spel is already under scrutiny from the European Commission for not allowing a fair amount of competition in the growing online gambling industry. Some say the pressure from the EU persuaded the company to move forward with a responsible gaming theme.
Svenska Spel did go further to expand its responsible gaming measures beyond what was suggested by the Commission. The company enlisted the help of Lund University’s Faculty of Medicine to study problem gambling, and has made the issue one in which Svenska Spel takes pride.
It is too soon to measure the results of Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming goals, as the program has not yet been in place for close to one year. But Zenita Standanger, Svenska Spel’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, spoke to PokerNews in May to note that the company “works for the prevention of problem gambling.”
Further, she said, “We do that by offering different gaming tools — we are restrictive in our marketing of certain games that are considered problematic from a gaming responsibility perspective. We use education and information to explain the risks of gambling, and we support research.”
One of the added benefits of the social gaming policy has been the reduction of advertising costs. Svenska Spel does not have to figure in the expenses of using constantly changing advertisements to publicize the latest promotions.
After the first quarter of 2014, Svenska Spel reported a 6.2 percent profit loss over the previous year. The company claimed that net gaming revenues decreased from SEK 2.48 million (US $363,300) to SEK 2.293 million (US $335,906). The company still showed a profit of SEK 1.243 million (US $182,090).
The company chalked the loss up to expectations for the policy change.
The second quarter earnings are now beginning to show, and not much changed. The first half of 2014 is said to show a total of 6.1 percent decrease in operating profit.
Even so, it should be noted that its overall cash game traffic for the first six months of 2014 has been on par with that of other global online poker sites, all having shown a decline this year. While Svenska Spel sticks to its responsible gaming line, the company can also point to the global gaming trend. The Swedish monopoly is actually performing just as well as any other site in the market, as far as online poker is concerned.