Both Patrick Hofbauer, Svenka Spel’s chief executive, and chairman Erik Strand, criticized operators offering markets on the Swedish lower league football teams after the suspension of all high-profile leagues and competitions.
Due to the global pandemic involving the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), sports betting options all over the globe have become limited. According to Hofbauer and Strand, operators have been forced to seek alternative new markets. This has led to some of them offering odds on training matches between clubs in Sweden’s fourth and fifth division.
In an opinion piece imparted to the Swedish media, both men noted that majority of sports governing bodies were against widespread betting on the lowest divisions. According to them, if more operators offered odds on the lower leagues in Sweden, especially matches wherein most of the participants were under 18 years of age, the risk of match-fixing would increase.
“The fact that gaming companies act in this way makes us both surprised and disappointed,” Hofbauer and Sand said. “Where is their respect for the sport? Where is the responsibility for the customers? How do they protect consumers, those who gamble on the matches?” they added.
Both men admitted that Svenka Spel, just like most sportsbook operators, was “greatly affected” by the shutdown and cancellation of almost major sports events around the world.
However, they said this didn’t imply they would endanger the integrity of sports by offering bets on “rouge” games.
Although the operator admitted to offering bets on training matches occasionally, it explained that this was only done after consultation with the Swedish Football Association, only at the levels of the football pyramid endorsed the sports governing body endorsed.
Due to the current situation, Svenka Spel has called for the passage of a law that will ban betting on amateur sports. The company claims such law would look after the interests of athletes and gambling consumers and keep criminals from making money.