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Why Has Sweden’s Gambling Market Re-Regulation Created Such a Big Buzz?

The recent participation of Casino News Daily team members in several iGaming conferences has, among other things, confirmed what we all expected – Sweden and the re-regulation of its gambling market has indeed created quite some buzz in the field.

Lotteriinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Authority, launched the application process for gambling companies interested in operating in the country under its new gambling law on August 1. According to various sources, the regulatory body accepted 22 license applications on the very first day. Around 27 companies are believed to have applied for a license so far, and Swedish authorities expect around 70 applications ahead of the January1, 2019 opening of the market.

Sweden’s state-run Svenska Spel as well as major gambling companies originating from the country but operating from Malta, including Betsson, LeoVegas, and Kindred Group, were among the early birds of the ongoing application process. And while a number of companies are looking to join the Scandinavian nation’s gambling space as early as possible, others have told members of our editorial team that they would approach the newly regulated market a bit more cautiously and wait until after the actual re-regulation takes place.

It is believed that Sweden could rapidly turn into one of Europe’s largest regulated jurisdictions in terms of revenue generated once its new regulatory regime takes effect. According to official data by Lotteriinspektionen, the regulated portion of Sweden’s gambling market, which is controlled by state-run operators, generated revenue of SEK17.07 billion ($1.8 billion) in 2017, while unregulated operators servicing local players generated SEK5.534 billion ($607.97 million).

Here it is important to note that the size of the country’s gray market cannot be estimated accurately and that it is probably much larger than what has been stated in Lotteriinspektionen’s latest annual report. Nevertheless, the figures reported certainly create optimistic visions of the future of Sweden’s re-regulated gambling market. And it is a matter of a very short time until the industry sees whether these visions will become reality.

Potential of the Swedish Gambling Market

Online gambling has been a popular activity across the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden included, since its not-so-distant dawn. The widespread tech-savviness of the Swedish population and the high Internet and mobile penetration rates have helped the online gambling industry as well as other digital developments keep and grow their footprint in the country.

In other words, Sweden has always been in a pole position when adopting and assimilating digital infrastructure, and this is why it is believed that the re-regulation of its gambling market and its opening to international operators that will bring further innovation, but in a regulated environment, is a step in the right direction, and a step that would provide for a further growth of the market.

The way a market is regulated defines the way it will develop in future. It can be said that, with very few exceptions, the provisions comprising Sweden’s new gambling law seem to be quite reasonable ones, not that likely to prevent the re-regulation’s success. For instance, Swedish lawmakers have introduced an 18% tax rate on gross gambling revenue, which given the anticipated size of the market and the wagering volumes operators expect from Sweden, could be described as a reasonable rate. It is a bit higher than UK’s 15% point-of-consumption tax, but it is lower than Denmark’s 20% tax.

eSports Betting – an Anticipated Success Story

With gambling companies looking for ways to attract younger generations of customers to their products, eSports and eSports betting are gradually becoming a popular option for drawing clientèle.

According to multiple online gambling companies, eSports could be one of the big success stories of the upcoming re-regulation of Sweden’s online gambling market. The world of eSports seems to be booming right now and a recent report by Paypal and Superdata shows that Sweden is Europe’s second biggest eSports market, only topped by Russia.

The publication notes that the Swedish eSports market is worth $31 million based on tickets and other products sales as well as sponsorships and brand popularization activities. In comparison, Russia’s eSports market is estimated to around $38 million.

A separate report by Kindred Group claims that Sweden has more professional eSport players than any other country. In addition, the country was allocated a particularly large portion of overall eSports winnings in 2016. And Paypal and Superdata believe that the Swedish eSports market will continue growing beyond 2019 when the European market is expected to reach its peak in terms of audience and players.

Data from the above reports presents a really nice picture for the potential creation of a solid eSports betting sector in Sweden under the country’s new regulatory regime. And multiple operators have actually confirmed that they would venture into the nation’s re-regulated market with an eSports betting product, in addition to their more traditional offering.

Possible Hurdles Before Gambling Companies

Competition in Sweden’s gambling market is expected to be fierce. A number of companies will be competing for a bigger share of a newly regulated market in a country with a total population of 9.9 million people. And some of these companies have already gained advantage over their future competitors through aggressive advertising activities in the country.

A report by measurement firm Kantar Sifo has shown that the national monopoly Svenska Spel as well as international gambling companies Kindred Group and LeoVegas placed among the nation’s top 20 advertisers in 2017 with total ad spending of SEK472.3 million, SEK443.09 million, and SEK313.1 million, respectively.

These companies as well as a number of major others operating in Sweden for years have already gained brand awareness and customer bases that will challenge newcomers quite significantly.

Another important thing to be taken into account as part of Sweden’s iGaming regulatory push is one particular provision in the country’s new gambling law, under which licensed operators would not be able to offer bonuses to their players beyond “the first occasion in which [a] player participates in a game”. As a result, black market operators will be able to gain a competitive edge with countless bonus offers, which would certainly create inconvenience for licensed companies.

Final Comments

Sweden is months away from re-regulating its market and opening it to international operators. The process is expected to create one of Europe’s largest and highest grossing jurisdictions, but despite the expectations and the fact that the regulatory environment created will be, to some extent, operator-friendly, there still will be major hurdles before the newly licensed companies and that it will take time before the market truly shows its actual potential.

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CrownBet Launches New Ad Campaign to Celebrate Planned Rebrand as BetEasy

Australian gambling operator CrownBet has kicked off its planned rebrand as BetEasy with a new advertising campaign created by Melbourne-based ad agency The Monkeys.

The rebrand is part of the ongoing merger between the operator and William Hill’s Australian business, which CrownBet purchased from the British bookmaker early in 2018. Under the terms of the acquisition deal, CrownBet is supposed to stop using the William Hill brand by October. The move comes amid a great amount of consolidation in Australia’s gambling market.

William Hill announced in January that a sale of its continuously underperforming Australian business was under discussion. News about the betting service’s eventual sale to CrownBet broke at the end of February following an extremely competitive bidding process. At about the same time, Canadian gambling giant The Stars Group bought a majority stake in CrownBet from Australian casino operator Crown Resorts.

Reports emerged in May that CrownBet would undertake a rebrand to mark the beginning of a new era in the company’s history. The company originally considered to change its name to Sportingbet, the name of an Australian betting service once owned by the family of the company’s founder, gambling industry veteran Matt Tripp.

However, the Australian business of Irish gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair challenged CrownBet’s choice of name in Federal Court, arguing that it sounded too familiar to its own Sportsbet operation and that this might confuse customers that the two brands are the same or related in one way or another. The Federal Court sided with Paddy Power Betfair and issued an order to block CrownBet’s rebrand temporarily.

The company announced recently that it would instead rebrand as BetEasy, the name by which it first began operating.

New Ad Campaign

As mentioned above, CrownBet’s rebrand advertising campaign is led by Melbourne-based ad agency The Monkeys. The new ad features two ambassadors for the BetEasy brand – Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting and actress Nicki Whelan. The two appear in a 30-second spot to announce the arrival of “bigger, better betting experience.”

CrownBet has said that it aims to set a “new tone and standard” in the Australian betting market. The merger of the company with William Hill’s Australian business is creating the nation’s third largest betting service, Tabcorp and Paddy Power Betfair’s Sportsbet being the largest ones.

Although CrownBet has already secured a significant share of the Australian betting market, establishing its new brand might not be an easy task as the space has become extremely competitive over the past several years. In addition, multiple regulatory hurdles are expected to pose significant challenges before operators and their further growth in the market. The introduction of the so-called point-of-consumption tax in almost all Australian states and territories with rates varying from 8% to 15% on local gross gambling revenue is set to be one such major hurdle.

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Matt Ernst Leads 21 Players into WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event Day 3

Day 2 of the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee $1,700 Main Event was played Sunday at the host casino to see a start-of-the-day field of 219 players be whittled down to just 21 survivors. Matt Ernst will be leading the final 21 into the last day of the tournament with a massive stack and significant lead over his nearest competitor on the temporary leaderboard.

Ernst cracked aces on a couple of occasions during Day 2 play to bulldoze his way to the top of the chip counts chart. The player bagged and tagged 3.565 million in chips at the end of the day, nearly 700,000 more than Todd Mercer, who put the second largest stack in his bag.

Charles Johnson held the third largest stack at the time when Day 2 action was wrapped up. The player won the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event last December. He topped a field of 957 entrants for a first-place prize of $272,744. He is now looking for a back-to-back title, which he might as well win, if he keeps his momentum.

An interesting story from the Main Event tables is that of Irene Carey who came into the tournament fresh off a second-place finish in the first event on the schedule of the ongoing Harrah’s Cherokee festival. Carey bagged 1.325 million last night and is looking for redemption, a title, and a gold ring from the series.

Other Notables Still in Contention

Notables who will return for Day 3 of the tournament include Dan Lowery and Ryan Phan. Lowery is eying his second WSOP Circuit Main Event title and his seventh gold ring from the series, while Phan is vying for a second ring. The former will begin Day 3 play as the short stack with a little over 500,000 in chips, while the latter is among the top stacks with 1.76 million. It is also interesting to note that Phan is coming fresh off an eleventh-place finish in this year’s WSOP Main Event.

There were also a number of WSOP Circuit regulars who busted early on Day 2 not even making it into the money. These included multiple-time gold ring winner Robert Hankins, Jonathan Hilton, and Bryan Devonshire, who hit the rail quite early on Sunday after terrific performance during Day 1B.

Notables who reached the money but could not make it through the day included record-breaking WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Maurice Hawkins, Sean Yu, Jeff Trudeau, who was the Day 2 start-of-the-day chip leader, and Blake Whittington, among others.

Day 3 of the Main Event will be played at Harrah’s Cherokee later today. The remaining survivors will play down to a champion, who will scoop a first-place prize of $295,970 and the accompanying gold ring. Each of the hopefuls is guaranteed a minimum cash of $15,790.

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LINQ Casino Slot Machines Go Down during DEF CON Hacker Convention

Dozens of slot machines went down at The LINQ Casino in Las Vegas over the weekend and speculations quickly emerged that those might have been hacked, Mashable reports citing information from a person who was on the gaming floor at the time of the odd occurrence.

It is interesting to note that DEF CON, known to be the world’s longest running and one of the world’s largest hacking conferences, was taking place right across the street at Caesars Palace at the same time. Suggestions popped that a conference attendee might have been up to some major mischief, meddling with the gambling devices.

Matt Anderson, a conference attendee, told Mashable that it was around 1:00 or 2:00 am on Saturday morning when a number of slot machines went all down simultaneously. He went on to say that “ALL” slots appeared to be offline or were showing an error message. Mr. Anderosn talked to a pit boss, who was not able to provide him with information about what was going on and who was “kind of panicking.”

The DEF CON attendee’s recollections were very similar to a number of reports by people who took to social media to share information about the unusual occurrence at the gaming floor.

The Casino’s Response

A spokesperson of The LINQ, a hotel and casino resort owned and operated by Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment Corp., told Mashable that the incident was indeed atypical but denied any possibility for it to have been the result from a hacking attack.

He further explained that they were investigating the incident and that while they were still unaware of the reason, he said they believe the outage happening during a major hacker convention was “purely coincidental”.

Asked how many machines went down Saturday, The LINQ spokesperson was unable to provide an exact number, but judging by social media posts and a video Mr. Anderson sent to Mashable, it seems that quite some machines were showing error messages or were completely offline.

The casino’s spokesperson said that so far there was no evidence that the incident was the result from a hacking attack or was cybersecurity related.

There have been multiple stories about tech-savvy bandits targeting slot machines at casinos around the world in pursuit of profit. Casino News Daily reported earlier this year police in Bulgaria had arrested four individual after they were uncovered to have hacked gaming machines at casinos and gaming halls across the Southeastern European country, reportedly defrauding them of massive amounts of money.

The group of criminals had been able to meddle with the slot machines after obtaining remote access to those and to manipulate the outcome of games to gain profit in the process. Aside from the four arrested individuals, Bulgarian police had seized a large unspecified amount of money and equipment used by the hackers.

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WSOP Circuit Kicks Off New Season with 1,056-Person Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event

It was just a few days ago when the 2017/2018 season of the WSOP Circuit ended with Warren Sheaves claiming the WSOP Global Casino Championship title and the accompanying gold bracelet. It is now time for the popular poker series’ new season and not only its first stop has kicked off in style at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina, but it is actually approaching its end.

The Main Event of the first stop on the WSOP Circuit’s 2018/2019 calendar kicked off Friday at the host venue with the first of two starting flights. And Day 1B, the second starting flight, was completed last night with Louis Garza holding the chip lead with a total of 476,000, followed by Austria’s Eyal Bensimhon (pictured) with 393,000.

It was actually Bensimhon who made the biggest waves throughout the tournament’s second starting flight. The player won some massive pots early on Saturday to never lose his momentum until action wrapped up for the day. Other notables who made it through the day included Bryan Devonshir, JJ Liu, Dan Lowery, and Ryan Buckholtz, among others.

The second starting flight of the Main Event actually drew 647 entrants, of whom just 139 players secured their seats into Day 2. They will be joined by the survivors from Day 1A for ten one-hour levels at the host venue.

Day 1 Recap and Prize Pool

The first Main Event of the new WSOP Circuit season drew a field of 1,056 entries, of whom 409 joined on Day 1A and 647 entered on Day 1B. As many as 219 made it through Day 2 and will return at the host venue later today to compete for a spot among the Day 3 hopefuls.

Day 2 of the tournament will kick off with Day 1A chip leader Jeffrey Trudeau holding the overall chip lead. The player bagged and tagged 495,000 in chips at the end of the Main Event’s first starting flight to pull ahead of the rest of the field.

The WSOP Circuit’s new season came with slightly increased buy-ins, so it now costs $1,700 to enter the Main Event, up from $1,675. With registration now closed, organizers announced that the first Main Event of the new season generated a prize pool of $1,599,840, crashing the guaranteed prize pool of $1 million.

The top 108 finishers will receive a share of the money, min-cashes starting from $2,994. The money bubble is expected to burst at some point today. Each of the nine finalists at the tournament’s official final table will receive a minimum cash of $29,181. As for the winner, they will be awarded the top prize of $295,970 and the WSOP Circuit gold ring.

Harry Arutyunyan from Glendale, California took down last year’s edition of the tournament, beating a field of 1,022 entries and taking home the amount of $283,597 in prize money.

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