ATG CEO: Focus on content not bonuses 


ATG is still Sweden’s largest gaming company on the commercial license market, this is clear after the half-yearly reports have been published. What’s even bigger is that we are also the biggest in sports betting. 

It’s actually a bit impressive considering that we started from scratch just under four years ago. At the same time, it is proof that it pays to run your business with product development and customer experience in focus – and not based on bonus offers.
Bonuses not only drive gambling addiction, they must also be seen as a bad rating on a product to have to sell it, before you have sold it.

At Spelinspektionen, the work to protect gambling customers from excessive gambling continues, and that is good. We have no views that education should be based on the conditions that are relevant for the Swedish gaming market . Nor that information should be available about the significance of the game’s design regarding the risk of gambling problems, and the effect of gambling problems and gambling addiction on an individual level . Examples taken from the Spelinspektionen’s impact investigation, which is now out for consultation.

On the other hand, we think that the Gaming Authority misses an important parameter in its consumer protection; the one about the negative impact of bonuses on the gambling behavior of vulnerable individuals. For those who are far from developing a gambling problem, a welcome bonus in the form of a satin duvet cover set may seem quite harmless.

But the fact is that that duvet cover can make a customer switch betting companies. To start playing on new, riskier gaming products and/or to start playing again after a much-needed break. That duvet cover can increase the player’s level of effort and risk-taking.

For the vulnerable player, a bonus offer, however mundane it may be, can contribute to problem development and relapse into problem gambling. You don’t have to think very long to understand that bonuses and sustainable gambling don’t actually play at all.

The problem is that bonuses are probably a good idea for the betting companies. New customers flock in at the same rate as more or less liquid bonuses change hands. And certainly some tea light holders from the Postcode Lottery may seem innocent. But when the online casino provider thanks its customers with cash, it is cynicism.

By the way, it’s a bit embarrassing that a product like a game, which is supposed to be a fun experience and nice relaxation, is marketed as if it were a surplus stock of expired canned goods. Does the industry really not have more confidence in the content of its offer?

Whoever is big and financially strong must be able to lead the way for a healthy gambling industry, that is in any case the demand we make of ourselves. At the same time, there is a challenge in being the biggest because you must not believe for a second that it is possible to equate being the biggest with being the best. I admit, ATG has also fallen into the bonus trap. A few years ago, with a few tens of kroner per player as bait, we tried to attract new customers in a competitive gaming market. It was a stupid idea and, incidentally, not even particularly successful, if by successful you mean adding new customers.

Either way, it didn’t feel right, and we decided bonuses weren’t for us. Since then, we have therefore had a self-imposed bonus ban, just like Svenska Spel has.

The re-regulation of the gambling market has meant a lot of new rules, the majority of them to protect the consumer, completely in line with the original idea. In the pursuit of perfection, it therefore feels strange that you would miss something that is so palpably bad for a vulnerable player as bonuses are. And probably creative product development is a nobler sport than writing welcome checks.

Hasse Lord Skarplöth