Vivaro Wins Sweden Licensing Case

BetConstruct-owned sportsbook and online casino Vivaro has won its appeal against its revoked Swedish gaming licence. 

The country’s gambling regulator Spelinspektionen had chosen to remove the operator’s permit, but the decision was reversed in court. 

Why was Vivaro’s licence suspended? 

In June 2020, Vivaro received permits to offer sports betting and casino services in Scandinavia’s largest country. 

Normally, operators that offer their services in Sweden must go live within a year or risk losing their licence. Vivaro didn’t launch its Swedish operations in that time, which is why Spelinspektionen chose to take action. 

Following this decision, Vivaro chose to appeal the decision. The operator felt that several factors stopped it from commencing with its Swedish operations, which were planned to begin in August this year — though Spelinspektionen rejected this request. 

At the same time as Vivaro’s licence was suspended, Fair Play Bets also lost its permit to operate in Sweden. Although Fair Play Bets was also banned because it reported 0 SEK in turnover, its reasons related to a restructuring of its corporate model.

Why wasn’t Vivaro able to launch? 

Vivaro pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons it was unable to launch within its expected timeframe. 

Sweden didn’t introduce a lockdown during 2020 and, compared to other countries, took a less draconian approach to controlling the spread of infection. However, one area that did not escape restrictions was online gambling; operators were forced to impose a 5,000 Swedish Krona (SEK) weekly deposit limit, among other measures. 

Perhaps more uniquely, though, Vivaro pointed to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as another reason for the delayed launch. Vivaro’s headquarters are in the capital Yerevan, and the company said that some of its employees had to leave and fight — which impacted its operations. 

The Swedish Administrative Court sides with Vivaro 

After Spelinspektionen suspended Vivaro’s licence, the operator disputed the decision — which went to the Swedish Administrative Court in Linköping. 

The court sided with the operator, and it will now have another chance to launch its services in the Northern European nation. 

Online gambling in Sweden 

Although gambling in Sweden has been legal since 2002, the country re-regulated its online gambling market in January 2019. This move from the government saw private operators able to obtain licences in the country and the end of Svenska Spel’s monopoly. Since then, the market has found itself in the gambling industry spotlight several times for regulatory reasons — notably what many deem to be too excessive.  

Notably, Copenhagen Economics reported last year that online casino channelisation has dropped since re-regulation. In January 2020, the rate for this vertical stood between 72 and 78% — and was decreasing. 

The temporary COVID-19 measures that followed the release of those statistics prompted concerns from many that too much regulation will lead to a significant revenue opportunity for unregulated operators. Reports elsewhere pointed that “casino utan licens” — Swedish for “casino without licence” — were on the rise in mid-2020.