How the Nordic Model Could Change Online Gambling
04 Oct 2018, 21:17 ( 04 Oct, 2018)
A few months ago, the Las Vegas Review Journal, the biggest circulating daily newspaper in Nevada, published a story highlighting how Finnish gaming operator Paf (Ålands Penningautomatförening) took the unusual step in banning gamblers who had lost too much money on its site. Reading the Review Journal’s story is to witness a veritable cultural clash, such is the incredulity of the author in seeing that at a gaming site, quasi-governmental or not, would put people before profit. Of course, excess is celebrated in Las Vegas like nowhere else, but the move by Paf here should not be ignored in its significance.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Finland, like every other country with legal gambling, is not without problem gamblers. But Paf, which is owned by the Åland regional government, has at least taken some steps to show how the industry can make some interesting changes. The loss-limit, which stands at €30,000 per player per annum, is not without criticism however, because it is completely subjective as to whether that amount represents a problem or not.
Nordic casino companies have dominated EGR Awards
Indeed, it is interesting to see how Nordic gambling companies have been on the rise in general. Companies like Mr Green, Dunder and Redbet are among those who have expanded beyond Scandinavia into European markets, especially in the UK. One of the great success stories has been LeoVegas, a Swedish brand that has significant presence in the Finnish market too. The company has won a, frankly, ridiculous amount of EGR Gaming awards, including Nordic Operator of the Year on several on occasions.
LeoVegas, as with other Nordic operators, has also made moves to position itself as a global leader in offering a responsible gambling product. Simple tools like Time Alert, which allows players to set timers to remind them of how long they are playing, wagering limits and session limits are all useful self-regulatory options for customers, without making them feel like they are being restricted of their freedoms. They also launched a separate website, Leo Safe Play, which focuses on everything from reporting underage players to finding out practical advice on the topic.
Player bonuses and jackpots not restricted by regulation
The point, however, is that these companies have struck a balance between being profitable, popular and responsible: The bonus offers at LeoVegas, for example, are just as competitive, sometimes more so, than any other site. The progressive jackpot games at Paf are still connected through the networks of the big software developers like Microgaming and NetEnt. Operators like Dunder and Mr Green are expanding throughout Europe, and even marching on to places like Canada, as profits remain healthy. In areas like mobile casino, widely seen as the most significant future platform for the industry, LeoVegas and Casumo are setting the trends, forcing the big players – William Hill, GVC, 888 – to follow, not lead.
Of course, it should be stated that no gambling company is perfect. Moreover, there is at times a rush for those from the rest of the world looking in to put Nordic societal and business models on a pedestal, to overestimate the successes and ignore the faults. But it should be said that the gambling industry is at its best when the operators recognise their responsibilities. Nordic operators have taken some small steps to lead that charge, perhaps the global industry, even those celebrated excess in Las Vegas, can benefit as a consequence.