RESPONSIBLE GAMING HAS IMPACT ON THE REPUTATION OF GAMBLING INDUSTRY

I have worked almost 30 years in gambling business and most of that time in lottery world where I was told to use word “gaming” instead of “gambling” when I was talking about our business. I’m not native English-speaking person so I don’t recognize all details in that language, but I believe that it wasn’t only about detail issue but rather about reputation of business. Lottery people have always thought that lottery is much softer and not so dangerous business than casino business is. Sports and Horse Betting are somewhere between those two areas. To me they all are gambling business and it doesn’t matter how soft or hard versions they are. I use gaming when I’m talking about casual and social games like for example Candy Crush Saga.

It is true that lottery games have caused much less, or almost at all, gambling problems than other gambling verticals. That’s one of the main reasons why lottery has had much better brand in the society than other games groups have had. The other reason has been “benefits for the society and good causes” ideology which has been the model all over the lottery world. It’s still very common that states have monopoly for lottery games and profit from those games is going to good causes. In other games groups that hasn’t been the case or if it has it’s not anymore. The gambling world has changed and is going to change.

Responsible gaming has always been important part of gambling business, but its role has increased rapidly during last few years. Especially in Europe responsible gaming has big role in political level discussion and I’m sure that other continents will follow soon or later. It’s important to understand what responsible gaming is about. To be honest I’m not expert on that area, but I have my own view about responsible gaming and I’ll try to explain how it should work.

Problem gambling and responsible gaming are not exactly the same issue but of course those two things are linked together. There are about 3 % of adults who have had gambling problems here in Finland. About 40 % of that group are serious problem gamblers which means that there are 50 – 60 000 people who really suffer. At least in Finland the most of gambling problems are caused by casino games and especially by slot machines. That’s why the former lottery company and horse betting company haven’t thought so much about gambling problems. Of course Horse and Sports Betting are reasons for some of those gambling problems but not at all at the same level than casino games. All game verticals have become quicker and harder and they are not anymore so different than they used to be before. Responsible gaming should be in the agenda of all gambling companies.

Gambling professionals seem to be worried what will happen to the reputation of our industry. There is more and more public discussion about that and unfortunately that discussion sounded to be rather negative one. It looks like gambling will follow the way which has happened in tobacco industry already many years ago. Smoking was very common when I was young adult, but nowadays it’s not acceptable at all. I think that gambling and smoking are not the same. Smoking is unhealthy for everybody, but gambling is not so dangerous for 80 – 95 % of people. Gambling is more like alcohol than tobacco when I think about problems caused by those things. It’s sure that gambling companies should do more in responsible gaming area, but there is no reason to ban whole gambling, because it causes problems for some of customers. We should concentrate on finding effective solutions to prevent those problems!

The problems won’t be solved if just some companies would change their rules, business models or whatever is needed to change. I think that whole industry should take responsible gaming really seriously, because it will affect on the reputation of industry. If there are companies which don’t care about the welfare of their customer, we can’t solve these problems, because problem gamblers would have companies where to move from the responsible companies. How we could solve that?

States, regulators and social welfare bodies, should decide and describe guidelines and the most important features for gambling companies which should operate according to those rules. I would describe that like “box” where companies should stay inside, but there they could run their business quite freely. If there would be any company which is not following those rules, that company should be punished very heavily and finally prevent whole operations of that kind of company. That model would work if whole industry would agree on that and there would be good cooperation between the industry and regulators.

What would be the best way to prevent gambling problems? I believe in personalization where gambling companies could utilize also other data sources than their own customer data. Unfortunately, it’s not legal to combine for example company’s customer data and data of the customers who have got help for gambling problems. In principle GDPR is good thing, but in gambling problem area it prevents to solve even bigger problems than customer’s privacy. One solution could be state level data center which could have “black box” where regulator could combine information about gambling problems, income/tax level and gambling data. The result of that kind of information would be personal level gambling limits and/or bans for gambling which should be mandatory for all license companies.

I believe more in personal limits than general level limits. I’m not sure if customers could really make right decisions by themselves when it’s about gambling limits. Regulators and social authorities & experts together with gambling companies should help customers to set them the best possible limits. Those limits could be separate in different gambling verticals (lottery, casino etc.). Gambling companies have and will have tools like AI and machine learning which could help them to make better work in responsible gaming area. I hope that gambling industry could find out the way to prevent gambling problems in more effective way than it’s the case now and at the same time we could continue to run our business without causing any useless disruption for those customers who could play our games without any problems!

THERE IS NEED FOR CHANGE IN HORSE BETTING AND RACING INDUSTRY

I had possibility to participate in excellent Betting on Sports event in London two weeks ago. Among many other things I listened to panel discussion about the future of UK horse racing and betting. Although horse racing and betting in UK is not at all the same than it’s here in Scandinavia, the challenges sounded very familiar to me. I’m sure that horse racing and betting won’t succeed if they are not ready for big changes, but how big risk they are ready to take?

I have owned racing horses already 44 years (since young kid), been active horse punter almost as long time and worked many years in horse betting business. So, I believe that I have enough knowledge to make analysis about that industry. BUT there is big risk that I’m too insider and can’t see all problems we have. It would be interesting to get deep analysis from someone who is familiar with gambling and/or entertainment business but not horse betting/racing.

It seems to be global trend that people are not anymore keen on going to normal average horse racing events. The number of spectators on “Monday evening” races has reduced all over the world. Nowadays it’s so easy to watch races from TV or mainly internet and there is no reason to go to racetracks anymore. That will cause big problems in long term, because racetracks have been the best channel/place to attract new customers. Where we could reach them if they are not going to visit tracks in the future?

The situation is not so bad yet. Big horse racing events are still popular ones. There were over 70000 spectators in one day in Cheltenham Gold Day Cup (in average over 60000 per day) and we had 55000 people in Kuninkuusravit, the biggest Finnish horse racing event, in two days. So, it’s still possible to get audience to the racetracks but you should offer them something special which big events are doing. But I’m worried about would that continue and what would be enough for audience. I have examples from Sweden. I have visited in their most popular horse racing event Elitloppet already since 1978 and I think that there less audience this year than ever before. I also visited in the classical Trav Kriterium last weekend in Stockholm and there were less than 3000 spectators and Kriterium is one the main events. If that kind of high-level racing event doesn’t attract people, what we should offer? It seems to be obvious that racing is not anymore enough and you should offer more entertainment.

Horse betting is extremely big business and has managed surprisingly well although there are more and more new gambling opportunities available. According to surveys the size of global legal horse betting is about 27 billion euros (illegal market is also extremely big one) and it’s estimated to grow by 1 – 2 % in next few years. The growth rate is lower than in other gambling areas but it’s not catastrophic and that might be reason for the future problems… It is always difficult to make big changes when your business is still going rather well. You are not willing to take big risks because you are afraid of losing what you have although those changes would help you to maintain or even increase your profit level. That seems to be case now in horse racing and betting industry. Almost everybody agrees that we need structural changes, but we are not ready to change things which have worked well.

Horse betting industry has managed to move towards digital channels. Nowadays horse betting from digital channels is almost as big as betting on tracks and betting shops. In next two years digital horse betting will be bigger than retail and track betting. Here in Finland about 75 % of horse betting is already coming from digital channels. In that area horse betting is acting in modern way. Someone might say that even too modern way, because punters get better service in digital channels than they get on racetracks and there is no reason to go there anymore. Anyhow I think that the problems in horse betting are unwillingness to change racing formats and bet types. We have had same bet types (win, place, exacta…) tens of years and we are not ready to test something totally new. I’m not sure if Live betting would work in horse betting, but we should at least test it and/or try to find out another solution to offer customers more interactive betting options. There is huge amount of data available from horse racing and betting, but are we really using that to develop our product better? Do we know what kind of races are the most interesting ones from customers point of view? Do we know when punters are willing to make horse bets – when the races should start, where races should be etc.?

The core question is to whom we are developing horse racing and betting. Are we doing that for horse trainers and owners or for active horse punters or for “big audience”? The needs of those groups are very different ones and we can’t fulfill the needs of all of them. I think that horse racing and betting industry should understand where the money is coming from and try to maximize or at least optimize that revenue. Everyone in horse business would gain from higher profit. I have told that already many times in previous blogs, but I say it again: customer is the king or queen! I know that now some of readers might say that I’m too much horse betting guy and I don’t understand and appreciate horse racing and horse people. I do, but in my world we need customers and horse punters who will bring money to our business. I’m keen on hearing and understand if there are examples where the level of horse racing price money is not linked to the level of horse betting. I know that the Arab Emirates and Al Maktoum family is an exception but is there any other examples?

WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR CUSTOMERS

It is obvious that discussion about the future of gambling business is going on all over the world. It doesn’t matter so much what kind of legal structure you have in gambling business. Of course, there are many differences between monopoly based and license-based systems, but the main challenges & problems are same. The Danish gambling expert Morten Ronde, who I appreciate a lot, compared our situation to previous development of tobacco industry and attitudes against it. It’s possible that the public opinion might turn to be even more against gambling.

I agree with Morten that it sounds familiar when I think what has happened in public opinion about tobacco. Anyhow I don’t think that the same should happen. I admit that gambling will cause serious problems and that should effect on the ways how we run our business. But gambling or gaming is not dangerous for all of us. It’s more like alcohol than tobacco. I think that tobacco is dangerous for all smokers, but alcohol is not for all drinkers. I don’t have any facts about that but it’s just my personal feeling. Of course, alcohol like gambling will cause problems if you consume it too much.

What we should do then? It was again Morten Ronde who said that everything should start from operators. We should have serious will to make everything as good and safe as possible for our customers. If gambling companies just do things because regulator has forced them to do, the situation won’t change. Fake actions are not so effective than serious ones!

I’m not trying to tell what gambling companies should do in practice, but I try to describe the principles which could make things to be better. I have got idea about that from the strategy seminar of KPMG. I believe that if companies, in whatever business they are operating, would follow these advices their business would be better in long term!

You should be trustworthy. If your customers don’t trust on your operations, you are in big problems. You should take integrity issues seriously. It’s absolutely not enough if you just do something in that area and write nice text in your Annual Report but act in different way. Customers will notice that for sure and they will lose trust on you.

I believe in personalization! You should understand the needs of your customers and try to offer your products and services in personalized ways. I think that AI technology will help us here a lot. I hope that AI will help us also when it’s about potential gambling problems. I’m not deep expert on that area but I believe that AI could already quite soon recognize potential problem gamblers.

Maybe I say this too many times, but you should know what your customers are looking for. What are their most important expectations? You should have will to give your customers even better service than they expect to get. You could manage to do it, if you listen to them and utilize data what is available about them. Same for everybody is not the solution in that area.

Now gambling companies seem to have quite big problems with their reputation. There could be many reasons why that’s the cause – too much marketing, too less actions in problem gambling area etc… You should know what the main reasons are and try to make much better actions in the areas which have caused those problems. It would be great to see cases where company could turn week actions to strong ones.

As I have wrote in some of my previous blogs, I think that there lots of different customer groups and their have different kinds of expectations. There are some active customers (active sports and horse punters) who are willing to spend lots of time in gambling but in average customers are looking for simple and quick services. You should develop quick and simple processes where everything will work fine and in a way which customers understand.

I admit that I haven’t been very empathic guy but now, maybe thanks to becoming older, I really believe on that. We should really take care of our customers. We should do everything to secure them although some of them are not willing to be secured. That’s extremely important in businesses like gambling!

LOTTERY INNOVATIONS – CASE LOTTOLAND

I participate in World Gaming Executive Summit event in July in Barcelona. I had opportunity to be one of the members in panel where we discussed about lottery innovations. One of the fellow panelists was Nigel Birrell, CEO of Lottoland. I was surprised how much we agreed on current situation and also about the further development in lottery business. My company Veikkaus, the national monopoly operator, and Lottoland, the market “hooligan”, look lottery/gambling business from very different perspectives but finally we are trying to reach about same goals. I’ll now tell what I personally think about companies like Lottoland and also what are main changes needed in lottery business.

I was asked to give my “confession” about Lottoland in ICE Vox seminar in February 2018. Although as a protest I’m not used to give any confessions, I made presentation about that and here are 7 points I made 1½ years ago. I think that they are still valid.

  1. Lottery business has no competition
    1. Lotteries have believed that competition is in casino and sports betting business but in lottery business.
    1. Due to previous point lottery innovations haven’t been significant at all.
    1. Lotteries have been and unfortunately still are in protection mode – we have believed in lobbying & EU Law.
  2. The business idea of Lottoland is great
    1. Betting on lottery results and the Lottoland business model is something like “Uber” of the lottery business.
    1. What Lottoland has done would be possible for lotteries. Why lotteries haven’t done that by themselves?
    1. There are excellent business solutions from Lottoland.
  3. Scared & angry
    1. I felt scared & angry when I noticed what Lottoland was doing -> protection mode again
    1. I think that it was steal of our brands!
    1. There wouldn’t be Lottoland without lotteries because they business was based on our products.
  4. Wakeup call- thank you!
    1. We should develop our own business.
    1. The key issue is to understand motivations of our customers – huge jackpots is not the only reason to play lottery.
  5. New surprise(s)
    1. Lottoland moved to B-to-B business and that was new surprise.
    1. What will be next surprise – maybe “Super Lottoland”?
  6. Speed of development increases uncertainty
    1. How much and quick gaming and gambling businesses will merge?
    1. Blockchain or something else – there will be new technologies all the time.
  7. We are going to fight!
    1. Lotteries or at least some of us are ready for fair competition!

Lottoland is just one company and I use it only as an example to describe what would happen if companies don’t develop their businesses and don’t put effort on innovation. Then there will be someone else who is doing that and will win the battle. It’s extremely important that you understand and serve your customers as well as possible. In old days it was possible that company decided what they were selling but nowadays customer is decision maker and he/she has lots of alternatives where to select – also in lottery business despite of monopolies.

I realized at the latest in that panel in Barcelona that there are still lots of lotteries who are not trying to innovate anything. I knew that it was the case some years ago, but I was a little bit shocked that it still is. Due to that fact there is lots of empty space in lottery/gambling business where newcomers, companies like Lottoland, have excellent business opportunities. If lotteries believe that they will win the battle in courtrooms, they are totally wrong!

I know that it is not easy to keep monopoly and at the same time innovate new business solutions, but we should try to do that anyhow. I’m happy and proud that my company Veikkaus is going to host EL’s (European Lotteries) Innovation seminar here in Helsinki in November. We try to increase the level of knowhow, understanding and spirit of innovations among lotteries. I hope that after few years the reputation of lotteries is not anymore old-fashioned, and we could still run profitable and responsible business!

THE FINNISH GAMBLING MONOPOLY – TO HAVE OR NOT TO HAVE IT?

I’m still on my summer holiday and try to avoid to do too much work but now it’s almost impossible to avoid that. There is the most active discussion about the Finnish gambling system going on and I believe that I understand very well what it is about. I should mention once again that all opinions are my own ones and my company Veikkaus has nothing to do with this blog.

We got new government about two months ago and I gave my estimations what that will mean for the Finnish gambling policy and system. I believed that the importance of responsible gaming will increase, and the current monopoly-based system will stay until the end of 4 years period of the new government. I still believe on that but now the probability of system change has become a little bit higher. Our Prime Minister Antti Rinne has said that Finland should make deep analyze about other possibilities too.

There are two main areas which have caused lots of discussion. The first one has been those 18000 slot machines which Veikkaus has all over the country in shops, cafeterias and gasoline stations. The second item has been ads where Veikkaus has given too positive feeling of gambling. It’s quite obvious that there have been too big mistakes in those ads where for example “therapist” has encouraged “patient” to make some horse betting. But are those mistakes so serious ones that due to them we should discuss about the gambling system? Are those mistakes sign of something bigger problem which we have?

The new Veikkaus is in bad situation. The company is 100 % owned by the Finnish State. It’s obvious that management should follow the guidelines which owner will give but has it been clear what the owner is willing to have? The operational profit from Veikkaus to the state has been over 1 billion euros a year and gambling tax has been about 200 million a year. The Finnish State has got from Veikkaus totally about 1,2 B€ which is over 2 % of the state budget. So, we are talking about the huge financial issue. But as you know, the fiscal revenue can’t be the official reason for gambling monopoly. The only acceptable reason for monopoly system could be prevention of social problems like crime and problem gambling. The Finnish State has decided that monopoly is the best way to prevent those gambling problems. But would it be possible to maintain that revenue level and at the same time prevent problems?

The Finnish State should decide which is the primary goal of Veikkaus – money or responsible gaming. If they will select responsible gaming, it will mean that they should accept that the revenue level will go down quite a lot. I think that it would be quite easy to increase responsibility if we don’t have to care about the profit at all. But Veikkaus doesn’t have monopoly anymore in real life and our regulators don’t have tools to regulate those offshore companies which have already quite big market share in online gambling business in Finland (their GGR from Finland is about 300 M€). If Veikkaus will increase the responsible level and regulator can’t control those unregulated companies the gambling revenue will go outside the Finnish borders and gambling problems won’t decrease. If the Finnish State will select profit as a main goal, it will mean the end of monopoly and we’ll do the same what has happened for example in Denmark and Sweden.

I would say that the current situation is strange where Veikkaus is in the middle and ”shots” are coming from socially responsible bodies which are looking for much more responsible gaming actions and require Veikkaus to stop business development and marketing. At the same time ”shots” are also coming from total other side from more business-oriented bodies who would like to break monopoly-based system and promote offshore gambling companies. It is almost fun to follow that kind of discussion where those two totally opposite bodies have found the common enemy. I would say that it would be similar case when in politics extreme right and extreme left will find common enemy.

The new government decided just two months ago what kind of gambling policy they will follow. Despite of that our Prime Minister Antti Rinne said few days ago that they will consider that policy again, but it should be based on facts and deep understanding of gambling business. Quite many EU countries have moved from monopoly system to license-based system and we have lots of bench marking information from those changes. I think that we could utilize the experiences from France, Denmark and Sweden and could estimate what that kind of gambling systems would mean here in Finland from business and responsible gaming point of views. I have been surprised that there is not so much information about responsible gaming results from those other countries – it even seems that they haven’t care about that so much when they have changed their systems. As far as I know they didn’t make any problem gambling research in Denmark before they moved to the license system.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to take care profit and responsible gaming at the same time but it’s very difficult to do. I’m saying that decision makers should know what they are looking for and what those changes might mean. As an economist I would say that monopoly as such will decrease the business activities. So, if Finland will follow the Swedish way, it would mean that at least that gambling activities will increase and we’ll have more marketing actions. But at the same time our regulators could control all those current unregulated offshore companies which are nowadays out of their scope and that would be positive thing. I don’t know what will happen here in Finland, but I know that we’ll interesting time ahead.

RAHAA VAI VASTUULLISUUTTA?

Mitäpä sitä kesälomallaan muutakaan tekisi kuin kirjoittaisi omaan työhönsä liittyvää blogia… Kuten olen jo blogeissani aiemminkin todennut, niin kirjoitukseni ovat täysin omaa käsialaani ja työantajallani Veikkauksella ei ole näiden tekstien kanssa mitään tekemistä. Ajatukseni ja mielipiteeni ovat siis täysin omiani, vaikka tietysti työtehtäväni ovat edesauttaneet tietojen saamista ja näkemyksien syntyä.

Kirjoitin pari kuukautta sitten arvioni Suomen uuden hallituksen mahdollisista vaikutuksista suomalaiseen rahapelipolitiikkaan ja -järjestelmään. Totesin silloin uskovani mm. siihen, että vastuullisuuden merkitys tulee korostumaan ja nykyinen yksinoikeuteen perustuva järjestelmä tulee säilymään ainakin tämän hallituskauden loppuun asti. Olen edelleen samaa mieltä, vaikka tuon jälkimmäisen asian todennäköisyydet ovat tämän viikon kommenttien perusteella muuttuneet.

Veikkauksen mainonta on saanut viime aikoina osakseen kovaa kritiikkiä. Virheitä on varmasti tehty, mutta kyseessä ovat toistaiseksi olleet yksittäiset ylilyönnit ja/tai virhearviot, joiden ei mielestäni pitäisi millään tavalla vaikuttaa siihen, minkälainen rahapelijärjestelmä Suomessa on. Vai pitäisikö kuitenkin? Onko mainoksista tunnistettava linja rahapelaamisen kannustamiseen sittenkin merkki jostakin isommasta rakenteellisesta ongelmasta?

Kansanedustaja Juhana Vartiaisen lausunto Veikkauksen tilanteesta oli kuin suoraan omasta suustani. Uusi Veikkaus on joutunut hankalaan tilanteeseen. Osakeyhtiön tulee kuunnella omistajansa mielipiteitä. Veikkaus on 100 % Suomen valtion omistama yhtiö, joten Suomen valtion ääni on omistajan ääni, mutta mitä tuo ääni kertoo yhtiölle? Veikkaus tuottaa edunsaajilleen vuositasolla yli miljardi euroa ja sen lisäksi valtio saa rahapelitoiminnasta noin 200 miljoonan euron verotulot. Fiskaalisen tuoton taso Suomen valtiolle on siis noin 1,2 miljardia euroa, joka on yli 2 % koko valtion tulobudjetista. Taloudellisesta näkökulmasta puhutaan omistajan kannalta valtavan suuresta asiasta. Toisaalta taloudellinen tuotto ei ole pätevä oikeudellinen peruste yksinoikeusjärjestelmän ylläpitämisen syyksi. Rahapelien järjestämisen yksinoikeus on mahdollista, jos järjestelmä ehkäisee pelaamiseen liittyviä ongelma, joita ovat mm. rikollisuus ja peliongelmat. Veikkauksen omistajan eli Suomen valtion tehtävänä on siis myös ohjata yhtiötä toimimaan mahdollisimman vastuullisesti. Nyt näyttää siltä, että omistajan kaksi eri näkökulmista syntyvää tahtotilaa iskevät toisiaan korville.

Toistan varmasti itseäni liikaa, mutta Suomen valtion tulisi päättää, kumpaa asiaa Veikkauksen tulee ensisijaisesti tavoitella. Vastuullisuuden priorisointi tarkoittaa väistämättä nykyisen tuottotason merkittävää putoamista. Vastuullisuustoimenpiteiden lisääminen lienee kohtuullisen helppoa, jos tuottojen alenemisesta ei tarvitse välittää. Toisaalta vain Veikkauksen tekemät erityisen kovat vastuullisuustoimenpiteet eivät välttämättä juuri poista ongelmapelaamista, mikäli viranomaisilla ei ole nykyistä enemmän keinoja puuttua Suomen reguloinnin ulkopuolella tapahtuvaan pelaamiseen (= offshore peliyhtiöt). Tällaisessa tilanteessa aktiivisten pelaajien rahat vain siirtyvät toisille peliyhtiöille, joiden vastuullisuustoimenpiteet ovat yleisesti ottaen selkeästi Veikkauksen nykytason alapuolella. Mikäli taas Suomen valtio päättää priorisoida tuottotasoa, niin yksinoikeusjärjestelmästä pitänee luopua ja siirtyä esim. Tanskan ja Ruotsin seuraksi lisenssijärjestelmään tai ainakin osittaiseen sellaiseen.

Veikkaus näyttää joutuneen ristituleen, jossa toisaalta ”ammuksia” tulee peliongelmia korostavilta tahoilta, jotka vaativat yhtiötä toimimaan nykyistä vastuullisemmin ja lopettamaan tai ainakin merkittävästi hidastamaan tuotekehityksen ja myynnin edistämisen. Toisaalta ”pommitusta” tulee aivan toisilta tahoilta, jotka pyrkivät edistämään yksinoikeuteen perustuvan rahapelijärjestelmän murtumista ja suuressa määrin myös yksityisten kansainvälisten rahapeliyhtiöiden liiketoimintamahdollisuuksien avautumista Suomessa. On ollut ”huvittavaa” seurata viime aikaista keskustelua, jossa nämä kaksi täysin eri asiaa ajavaa tahoa ovat yhdessä arvostelleet Veikkauksen toimintaa. Vertaisin tilanne politiikkaan, jossa äärioikeisto ja -vasemmisto hyökkäävät yhteisen keskellä olevan vallanpitäjän kimppuun.

Olen pääministeri Rinteen kanssa samaa mieltä siitä, että suomalaisen rahapelijärjestelmän perusteita tulee jälleen kerran tarkastella, vaikka Suomen uusi hallitus vain pari kuukautta sitten teki hallitusohjelmassaan asiasta selkeitä linjauksia. Uskon vahvasti faktaperusteiseen päätöksentekoon ja toivon, että tätä periaatetta noudatetaan myös rahapeliasiassa. EU:ssa on viimeisen kymmenen vuoden aikana tapahtunut monessa maassa muutos rahapelien yksinoikeudesta lisenssijärjestelmään. Näistä muutoksista, mm. Italiassa, Ranskassa, Tanskassa ja viimeisimpänä Ruotsissa, on saatavissa paljon faktatietoa. Taloudelliset vaikutukset on helppo analysoida, mutta yllättävää on se, ettei kaikissa maissa ole kiinnitetty huomiota peliongelmissa tapahtuneisiin muutoksiin. Esimerkiksi edistyksellisessä Tanskassa ei tehty ennen muutosta ongelmapelaamisen määrän arviointia lainkaan, joten vertailukohtaa muutoksen vaikutuksille ei ole olemassa. Vaikuttaakin siltä, että monen maan päätöksentekoa on ohjannut taloudelliset tavoitteet.

Olen todennut aiemmissa blogeissani, että vastustan lähtökohtaisesti monopoleja. Olen kuitenkin saanut työskennellä rahapelejä yksinoikeudella hoitavissa yhtiöissä kohta 28 vuoden ajan ja ymmärrän sen vuoksi hyvin, että joissakin tapauksissa yksinoikeudella päästään parempiin tuloksiin kuin vapaalla kilpailulla. Uskon näin olevan aloilla, joilla on todellinen tarve säädellä asiakkaiden kulutusta. Suomessa tällaisen kuluttajia koskevan erityisen suojelun aloiksi on katsottu mm. alkoholi ja rahapelaaminen. Vaatiiko kuluttajien erityinen suojelu yksinoikeusjärjestelmää vai ei?

Ruotsin lisenssimallissa viranomaiset ovat saaneet säätelyn piiriin aiemman parin yhtiön sijaan yli sata yhtiötä. Viranomaisen mahdollisuus puuttua asioihin on siis tässä mielessä lisääntynyt merkittävästi. Toisaalta aiemman parin virallisen toimijan (ATG & Svenska Spel) mallista siirtyminen yli sadan rahapelibrändin malliin on aiheuttanut mainonnassa räjähdysmäisen kasvun, joka taas väistämättä lisää peliongelmia. Järjestelmäratkaisuun ei siis ole itsestään selvää ratkaisua. Elämme kiinnostavia aikoja…

PREDICTIONS ABOUT SPORTS BETTING

It’s already 1½ months when I last time wrote my blog. I should be more active but there have been so many other things to do…

I participated in World Gaming Executive Summit few weeks ago in Barcelona. That was good event where I got some ideas for my blog. I had excellent panel discussion about the future of lotteries with CEO of Lottoland and I’ll write about that after my summer vacation but now I’ll concentrate on Sports Betting – again.

Sergey Portnov, CEO of Parimatch, gave interesting predictions about the future of Sports Betting. I’ll summarize what Sergey told and make my own predictions too. Let’s see how well we could see the future of Sports Betting.

Portnov presented 10 points and gave odds all of them. Here is short version about his predictions without those odds:

  • there will be 100+ new betting sites targeting 18 – 25 years old segment
  • marketing massacre is imminent, budgets doubling and LTV also growing
  • bookmakers will run their own sports competitions to ensure always on live betting propositions
  • majority of companies will transform management teams
  • ICE event will be overfilled with payments solutions, bookmakers will finally start building USPs around payments
  • sport streaming in its current form will become obsolete
  • individual product offerings will overtake generic offerings
  • all major players in the market will rebrand
  • offshore market will grow faster than regulates market
  • esports will account for 10 % revenue for betting operators

It’s very logic that I look Sports Betting from different perspective than Sergey does. Finland versus Ukraine/Cyprus and state-owned monopoly versus private owned offshore company are totally different worlds. Anyhow we both know Sports Betting business well and that’s why I could agree with Sergey about many of his points.

My 10 predictions about the future (5 years) of Sports Betting are:

  • GAFA companies will enter to gambling/Sports Betting business
  • big media companies will utilize their sports media rights also in Sports Betting business
  • companies will have separate Sports Betting brands & offering for active customers and average customers
  • individual products & services will increase their popularity
  • esports will be the second biggest sport in Sports Betting (includes new esports formats)
  • marketing of Sports Betting will be banned – at least in EU
  • bonuses won’t be allowed
  • regulated companies will have at least 80 % market share in Europe and North America
  • there will be new popular Sports Betting products which are different ones compared to current fixed odds Sports Betting
  • the importance of responsible gaming will increase dramatically