Progress for a healthier gaming market

Svenska Spel has a mandate from the Swedish State to channel gaming from illegal and unregulated environments to a safer gaming environment. For Svenska Spel, it is evident that the best gaming experience is safe and responsible. It is a part of our “Gaming shall be enjoyed by all” vision.

Consistent and adapted responsible gaming

Responsible gaming must be consistent, and it must also be adapted to the individual and the gaming experience. The responsible gaming programme is based on the risk level of the game forms and the customer’s gaming habits, while simultaneously reducing possibilities for fraud in the form of match fixing and money laundering.

Obligatory game registration, introduced in 2014, is the platform for Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming initiatives. Through registration, Svenska Spel can modify communication and responsible gaming tools so that the players can make informed choices. Customers also get access to a variety of responsible gaming services.

Responsible gaming is based on the risk level of the game forms

Based on the game form’s risk level, customers are offered different tools to control their gaming, for example the possibility of setting limits for time and money.

Svenska Spel and other companies affiliated with the Ethical Council of the Gaming Industry use the GAM-GaRD tool, which was developed by researchers. The tool is obligatory in Svenska Spel’s product development process. It is used to identify risk components in a game and to classify and document each product. Games with higher risk are altered or provided with enhanced customer protection and/or preventive responsible gaming tools.

In common with the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Svenska Spel uses a recognised measurement method (PGSI*) to measure actual problem gambling in order to follow up the actual effect of responsible gaming measures.

*Problem Gambling Severity Index

Enhanced control over personal gaming habits

Playscan is Svenska Spel’s collective term for all the tools and services that are available to help customers monitor their gaming habits. Playscan enables Svenska Spel’s customers to track their gaming habits, impose limits for time and money, and exclude themselves from gaming.

In 2015, new measures were designed to give customers enhanced control over their gaming habits and to lower the risk of problem gambling. All registered customers now have access to the Playscan feature that signals when gaming behaviour is starting to become more risky.

Now Playscan has a feature that gives customers the option to take a 24-hour break at any time from high-risk online games. All customers can also see their gaming history, which gives an overview of how much time and money the customer has spent at Svenska Spel.

Guiding principles for respon­sible gaming at Svenska Spel

  • The individual takes responsibility for their own gaming.
  • Svenska Spel consciously develops an offering that promotes healthy gaming.
  • Svenska Spel creates transparency around gaming and makes individual customers aware of changes in gaming behaviour.
  • Svenska Spel creates the necessary conditions for customers who wish to curb gambling problems.
  • Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming measures must be consistent while retaining the same high degree of adaptation in terms of the individual and the gaming experience.
  • Svenska Spel’s responsibility does not extend to care and treatment.
  • Svenska Spel takes responsibility for the Company’s own ­customers and contributes to reducing problem gambling in society at large.
  • Svenska Spel should be a role model regarding responsible gaming.

24/7 customer service

Customers and relatives can turn to Svenska Spel’s customer service, which is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. They will receive personal service and advice about risky gaming, responsible gaming tools and referrals for professional help, for example, via the Help Line. Now, customers can also exclude themselves from Casino Cosmopol by contacting ­customer service.

Svenska Spel’s customers can exclude themselves from gaming via all channels. Svenska Spel’s customer service employees are trained to hold follow-up dialogues with customers who wish to start gaming again following an exclusion period. The method of using follow-up calls is also used at Svenska Spel’s casinos, which have proactive dialogues with guests who show signs of gambling problems. Trained staff talk with guests about their gaming behaviour and offer guests voluntary exclusion from the casino for a limited period of time or until further notice. Some 2,580 guests signed an agreement of voluntary exclusion in 2015.

Training in responsible gaming

Svenska Spel holds regular responsible gaming courses for employees, retailers and business partners. All new retailers and business partners are trained in responsible gaming tools, the risks of gaming, the importance of age verification as well as the issues of match fixing to create a secure and safe environment for the customers. Certification of all retailers and partners involved in gaming is the objective.

A new interactive version of Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming course for employees was designed in 2015. Svenska Spel has also started working on an in-depth course for employees involved in online gaming. The course will be held for the first time in 2016.

New for the year is that Svenska Spel has designed a course in responsible gaming aimed at the Company’s sponsorship recipients. Representatives from the Swedish Football Association will be the first to attend the course.

More stringent marketing terms

Among other things, the Swedish Gambling Authority’s terms for marketing, which were further tightened in 2015, mean that:

  • Direct mail is not permitted without express consent from the customer.
  • Online marketing is permitted only with links to the Company’s website or to websites where the games are available under the prerequisite that login is required.
  • According to the Swedish Gambling Authority’s social regulations, the size of the jackpot may not be the main message in marketing.
  • Inclusion of the Help Line phone number with all marketing.
  • Marketing of games at the point of sale at food retailers is not permitted. However, neutral, non-sales-driving messages are permitted.
  • No outdoor marketing is permitted of Casino Cosmopol other than on the actual casino properties.
  • Information about the risks of gaming is to be available at every purchase.

Responsible marketing

Svenska Spel’s marketing should be responsible and make it easy for customers to make conscious and informed choices. Marketing should contribute to steering gaming from the unregulated market to the regulated market. In addition to its own marketing guidelines, Svenska Spel also follows the guidelines from SPER (Ethical Council of the Gaming Industry) and the responsible gaming standards set by the European Lotteries and the World Lottery Associations.

Marketing is adapted to the customer’s preference and the risk level of the game. When new customers register, they choose which type of direct marketing Svenska Spel may send. 

Help Line

Svenska Spel marks all its gaming coupons, ticket rolls and lottery tickets with the telephone number to the Help Line. The number is displayed at all gaming venues and is also now included on all advertising. Customers or their relatives can call the Help Line for professional advice and assistance concerning gambling addiction or problem gambling. The Help Line is run by the Centre for Psychiatry Research under a commission from the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

Dialogue with gambling addiction associations

As part of increasing knowledge about gambling problems, Svenska Spel maintains an ongoing dialogue with gambling addiction associations and representatives for the treatment of gambling addiction. The dialogue provides valuable knowledge about developments in the area and opinions about Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming initiatives. In 2015, Svenska Spel entered a dialogue with Riskförbundet Spel­kontroll (RISK) – an organisation for young people between 16 and 30 – which wants to conduct a dialogue about young people’s gaming. Svenska Spel also took part in meetings held by gambling addiction associations.

Delayed decision regarding online casino games

Svenska Spel is to provide game forms that can entail risks of a social nature, if this can curb gaming in uncontrolled forms. It is a question of moving existing games to a healthier and safer gaming environment.

When Svenska Spel’s customers register to play on Vegas, they are given access to a variety of different responsibility tools. They must set limits for time and amounts, there is a fast shut-down feature and they can track their gaming history. Svenska Spel’s partners are also trained and certified to work with gaming products.

The demand to play on gaming machines is substantial, even in environments that do not serve alcohol. To provide an alternative to the market’s illegal gaming machines, Svenska Spel applied to the Ministry of Finance for permission to place VLTs at the Company’s gaming retailers. However, Svenska Spel was informed in 2015 that its application had been denied. The Company only has a permit to place VLTs in environments that have alcohol permits.

In June 2014, Svenska Spel also applied for a permit to provide an online casino but has not yet received an answer as to whether the Company may organise this form of gaming or not. An online casino under Svenska Spel’s auspices has better prerequisites for dealing with risky online-casino gaming in Sweden and demand could be channelled toward an operator who prioritises responsibility over profits. If Svenska Spel is granted a permit to organise this form of gaming, the Company will offer a number of responsible gaming measures that none of the alternatives on the market today have, including obligatory time and money budgets as well as deposit stops between midnight and 6 a.m. every day. Nor will the Company offer bonuses.

Brief facts about Svenska Spel’s responsible gaming

  • Registration is obligatory for playing all of Svenska Spel’s games, except for paper lottery tickets.
  • The responsible gaming services are packaged under the heading “Playscan”.
  • Customers can track how their registered gaming progresses through “Playscan”.
  • It is easy to set limits for gaming, both in terms of time and money.
  • Online exclusion for all gaming is easy.
  • Playscan warns if gaming habits are becoming more risky.
  • Playscan has a feature that offers the option of a 24-hour break from online games.
  • The age limit is 18 to play Svenska Spel’s games. The age limit is 20 for Casino Cosmopol.
  • Registration is obligatory for Casino Cosmopol guests.
  • Svenska Spel has discontinued bonuses and free spins, and is extremely restrictive in marketing high-risk games.
  • Svenska Spel is certified according to the responsible gaming standard of the European Lotteries and the World Lottery Associations. The standard is based on a framework comprising 11 areas.

Support to research

Gaming and gambling problems is a relatively young research area in Sweden and relevant methods for measuring the effects of various responsible gaming measures are still few.

To contribute to better knowledge, Svenska Spel set up a Research Council in 2010. The Council comprises experienced researchers and representatives from the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR). Over a five-year period (2011–2015), Svenska Spel contributed a total of SEK 25 million to the Research Council. In autumn 2015, the Research Council again arranged its annual research day for gaming researchers in Sweden and key decision-makers in the field.

Since 2014, Svenska Spel funds a research position in addictive disorders with particular focus on gambling addiction at Lund University. Svenska Spel is investing SEK 2.5 million per year for a period of five years. Anders Håkansson who has the position, focuses his research on measures to prevent gambling addiction, see The best and safest gaming experience.

What is happening in 2016?

  • Responsible gaming tools will become more accessible when Playscan is completely launched for tablet devices and computers.
  • Launch of new and updated interactive responsible gaming courses, including to the Company’s sponsorship recipients.
  • Expanded responsible gaming cooperation with Norsk Tipping.
“I feel that Svenska Spel’s advertising today is both relevant and entertaining. I am not for a ban on advertising, but the downside of the product should also be communicated, like Systembolaget does.”

Jimmy Nilsson, Advisor at the Spelberoende­föreningen* in Gothenburg

*Gambling Addiction Association

“The other sites offer free spins and send what is basically a steady stream of advertisement. Svenska Spel does not. That’s the biggest difference – and it is truly a huge difference.”

Julia Björklund, Customer (poker player)