Swedish Gambling Report Calls for Stricter Measures for Nation’s Operators

Result of a two-year inquiry

Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has published the results of a government-led inquiry into the nation’s gambling market. The report proposes a number of regulatory changes concerning Sweden’s gambling licensees.

aimed to identify any areas where the Swedish Gambling Act required improvement

The Swedish government launched the inquiry in 2018. This was prior to the re-regulation of the country’s gambling market in January last year. Former Swedish MP Anna-Lena Sörenson spearheaded the investigation, which aimed to identify any areas where the Swedish Gambling Act required improvement.

On Monday, Sörenson and Sweden’s minister for social security, Ardalan Shekarabi, held a digital press conference in which they presented the results of the inquiry. Among the proposed reform is a ban on daytime online casino advertisements and a classification system for gambling products.

Details of the report

Two of the report’s most significant inclusions relate mainly to online casino gaming. The document proposes a ban on online casino advertising between the hours of 6am and 9pm, comprising TV, radio, and streaming media.

Additionally, it recommends the creation of a risk classification system to rate the degree of danger for different gaming products. If implemented, regulation for those products would then be amended accordingly. Kindred has since said it expects the online casino market to receive a high-risk rating.

The report states that, although the amount spent on gambling advertising has declined since the Swedish market’s re-regulation, the level is still high. According to the inquiry’s data, more than half of all gambling advertising in traditional Swedish media last year consisted of online casino marketing. As a result, online casino operators spent over SEK3bn ($357m) on such advertisements in 2019.

The inquiry also assessed attempts to drive Swedish players towards the legal market – known as channelization. Throughout 2019, channelization levels failed to reach targets set at the beginning of the year. In an attempt to improve on this, the report recommends a permit requirement for B2B gambling businesses that would block unlicensed companies from accessing games. In addition, it proposes that the ban on illegal gambling marketing via local channels should also apply to overseas-based media and video platform providers.

The document also refers to the current online weekly casino loss limit of SEK5,000 ($595.26), which the Swedish government introduced in July to help reduce the risk of problem gambling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It proposes the implementation of said cap on a permanent basis, but only for land-based slot machines operated by the state-run Svenska Spel.

The report briefly confronts the issue of loot boxes in video games, suggesting that legislators must change any relevant rules at an EU level, rather than at a national one. The subject has been at the center of regulatory debate across Europe recently. Many have labeled the loot box feature as a form of underage gambling.

Industry reactions

Industry sources have already criticized the report, arguing that two of its main proposed measures could increase the risk of black-market gambling.

could lead to “deteriorated consumer protection”

The Swedish trade association for online gambling, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), released a document in response to the inquiry. The group argued that although the changes might seem “reasonable on paper”, they could lead to “deteriorated consumer protection” in the long run.

The BOS described a risk classification for gambling products as an “ineffective measure”. Instead, it proposed a risk classification for customers that would rate a player’s potential risk based on gambling history, level of debt, and income.

Regarding the daytime ad ban, the association argued that a reduction in the advertising of responsible licensed operators would only fuel black-market activity. It also highlighted the SEK4bn ($476m) paid annually in gaming tax by the country’s operators.

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