Data produced by customer-first affiliate brand Bonusfinder.com claims almost a third of Swedish players are searching online for ‘unlicensed casinos,’ with growing numbers said to be turning to black-market brands due to the market’s restrictive gaming regulations.
Research, which was carried out by Bonusfinder, has monitored the Swedish market since re-regulation in January 2019. It revealed a spike in Swedish players searching for a group of black-market keywords.
The report claims that up to “30 per cent of players have searched for terms such as ‘unlicensed casino’”. Furthermore, the report goes on to state that the aggressive restrictions on licensed operators drives players to search and “convert” to unlicensed black-market brands.
Fintan Costello, managing director of Bonusfinder.com, said: “Instead of misguidedly declaring phase one of Swedish legislation a ‘success’ regulators should be focusing on the rising proportion of players searching for ‘unlicensed’ brands.
“Equally concerning is that newly regulating markets such as Germany appear to be ignoring their mistakes. There is no regulated market on earth that is proposing such damaging rules, and we would urge them to take heed of Sweden’s rapid plunge toward encouraging unlicensed activity.
German lawmakers recently approved regulations to legalise online poker and casino from July 1 2021 with strict measures including slot subject to a €1 per spin stake limit, no auto play and no jackpots while casino games must be offered separately to table games.
Costello added: “This should serve as a real warning for German lawmakers who have plenty of time to alter their proposals to benefit and protect players and to ensure their newly regulated framework is commercially successful.
“At Bonusfinder.com we aim to give players more choice, presenting them with all the options before they commit to gambling on specific sites.
“Our aim is to help people ‘play with more’ in a safe environment. Our core principles are built on a common sense approach to regulation that involve honest and open conversations between regulators, operators, affiliates and players.
“This is exactly the approach German regulators should be taking.”
According to recent official data from the Swedish regulator, 91 per cent of gambling is carried out by licensed operators in a market said to be worth more than €1.2bn.
Research data from H1 Gambling Capital predicts Sweden’s ‘channelisation’ strategy towards licensed sites to be 85 per cent, yet according to Bonusfinder it shows almost a third of Swedish players are being diverted to unlicensed brands with 70 per cent of players using legal casinos.
One large operator in Germany, on condition of anonymity, claimed that future licensed brands could see casino revenues fall by up to 70 per cent with many players flocking to black market sites if regulators passed restrictive proposals.
“With the 16 Federal States in Germany approving the new gambling regulation everyone was anticipating a regulated and safe gambling environment for online and land-based players in Germany.
“The strict policies in the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling, however, will force players and operators into illegal channels and, if this goes ahead, the market with the biggest potential in Europe will have lost its opportunity.
“For many operators revenues will drop by 60 to 70 per cent and on top of that taxes and fees will make this licence unattractive.”