Balancing Fun and Safety, Svenska Spel Hits A Top Note With iGamers

There are now over 100 Swedish-licensed platforms, offering consumers a vibrant array of options.

Yet, despite the increased competition and a challenging transition, Svenska Spel remains a dominant force and top choice for many players.

In this iGF exclusive interview with Åsa Thelin of Svenska Spel, we delve into the company’s approach to integrating new technologies, balancing fun and safety, and the impact of regulation in Sweden.

Åsa, an integral part of Svenska Spel since 2015, has helped steer the company through significant changes. As Head of Design and Experience, she’s a strong advocate for customer-centric thinking, drives innovation, and oversees customer experience.

In conversation with iGF’s Head of Content Curtis Roach, her take on Scandinavia’s exciting iGaming scene is both vital and prescient.

Do iGaming operators focus on retention enough, or is there more that we should do as an industry?

“In our case, we already have a huge customer base – not to brag, but we’ve pretty much cornered our market. While we still target and capture new players, we have to keep the customers we have satisfied by supplying new games and products. This increases revenue.”

What are your thoughts on new technology, such as AI and automation? What impact will it have on the industry going forward?

“It’s changing things a lot. And there is more to come. Since I started as a product designer, things have fundamentally changed. Now we create things using AI prompts, which never existed before, and it will continue to evolve.

“I love learning to use new tech. When we look at innovation, tech is a big part of it, so knowing what’s out there and how to use it is key. I think many people who are scared of new technologies, like AI and automation, are afraid because they don’t know how to use and understand these tools. I’m not worried about the impact because my attitude is to learn more.

“There’s also the concern that AI will take over the creative process. But I don’t think this will happen. Humans have always been driven to express themselves through creation, so that won’t stop. At the moment, AI is only recreating what already exists, but faster, which means to be genuinely competitive going forward, you have to find a way to be unique.

“The digital tools we use have played a big part in speeding things up and making things easier: You get more data, faster processes, so it’s about learning to navigate the available tools. If we look at content, my colleagues are using AI in very new ways. It facilitates them to create more content than was possible just a few years ago, and this can be achieved much cheaper, as it doesn’t require hiring more staff.”

How do you balance maximising the customer’s fun and enjoyment while ensuring the safest playing environment possible?

“You can strike this balance; but it’s challenging, especially with timing. For example, with Safeguarding and Responsible Gambling messaging that you need to display to customers, it can be difficult to find the right moment in the customer journey to communicate these messages best so they have an impact.

“[And] if we think about new players, according to legislation, they should be setting limits on their own accounts. But, at this time, they don’t know how much they want to play or spend because they are new; so it’s hard to navigate this.

“You can, of course, use pop-ups and automated systems that guide players in what they need to do, but how and when you do this matters.

“Our data has shown that the tone of these messages can really have an impact on uptake. For example, we found that when we tell players they have to do something, they can feel offended, so we’ve worked heavily on the tone of our messaging so that players feel in control and take the mandatory steps without feeling that it is required and that they are being instructed.”

How do you feel legislation regulation impacts your role? Do you see it as a limiting factor, or is it an opportunity to innovate?

“Regulation is good. It provides players with an industry standard and expectations of the market. Without regulation, we’d depend on players to self-regulate, which is confusing for them to understand, and generally messy.

“In this sense, regulation, as standardisation, is great for players and the customer experience. However, some of the rules are somewhat inhuman. For example: When we have to cut players off, it’s very sudden and often the consumer doesn’t understand, which means we have to try to explain and guide users and try to innovate in the customer journey so that key regulations are communicated effectively.

“In an ideal world, I’d like to see more collaboration with regulators and operators so that we can innovate together in this process. I think the fact that those who create regulations don’t do so in tandem with operators is a hurdle. This can also lead to a scenario where even operators don’t understand what new laws and rules require them to do. More communication and input between stakeholders and regulators would lead to a better user experience and more effective policies.

“At the end of the day, though, regulations are created to protect players, and that’s amazing.”

Editor’s Note:

Greater collaboration between Regulators and Operators is a common request, and one that regulators should take seriously. In Åsa’s opinion, it would help to foster greater understanding and create more robust, suitable, and sustainable policies. It would also encourage innovation in crucial areas, such as Responsible Gambling tools.

Unfortunately, for now, Åsa sees this as an idealised vision for the industry – rather than an imminent reality. But hope is not lost. There are examples of this approach being put into practice, such as the UK Gambling Commission’s evidence-led approach, which relies in part on consultations and industry forum perspectives.

While increased collaboration may hold the key to helping operators guide customers on their gambling journey, according to Åsa, the timing, tone, and manner in which operators communicate safeguarding messages and requirements remain crucial factors.

As for the role of AI and automation, Åsa believes we shouldn’t be threatened by these tools, at least not yet.

Instead, it’s essential to adapt and embrace available technologies to expedite processes, boost human creativity (for which there is no replacement), and develop truly unique and competitive products.

Published on:
fast track