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Online Gambling in Sweden – is the regulatory approach suitable for consumer protection?

Sweden’s online gambling operators are pushing back against the latest government report that encourages the industry to adopt a number of new restrictions for the gambling industry.  The gambling restrictions imposed on online casinos following the Covid-19 outbreak became a controversial topic, as according to operators the restrictions only...

3 Feb 2021 AUTHOR: Shenaly Amin

Sweden’s online gambling operators are pushing back against the latest government report that encourages the industry to adopt a number of new restrictions for the gambling industry. 

The gambling restrictions imposed on online casinos following the Covid-19 outbreak became a controversial topic, as according to operators the restrictions only benefitted offshore websites and did not protect customers. In December 2020, the lobby group representing Sweden’s online licensees, criticized the Gambling Market Enquiry report which bought about these tough measures for focusing too much on tying the hands of local operators while doing a lot less to deter internationally licensed sites.

Sweden first regulated online gaming in 2018 to regulate the gambling market while strengthening the protection of players. Since then, private operators have been able to organise online casinos, card and dice games, roulette, slot machines, betting (including betting on virtual events), bingo and lotteries.

The Gambling Act was followed by a Gambling Ordinance, which brought clarity to the Swedish online gaming sector and the requirements for operators to obtain a licence. The first licences were issued in January, 2019 and since then, various companies have obtained the necessary licences to operate in the industry. 

Since then, The Swedish Government launched an inquiry to assess areas of the industry that require regulatory reform. As a result of the inquiry, the Swedish government has been advised to introduce a set of new restrictions for the gambling industry. 

Gambling advertising on television broadcasts, on demand television, searchable teletext, audio radio broadcasts, on-demand radio (podcasts) and video sharing platforms between 6am and 9pm should be prohibited. The existing ban on broadcasting advertising for illegal gambling should also be extended to include foreign-based media service providers and video-sharing platforms, user-generated videos or television programmes. 

A SEK5,000 (€487) weekly deposit limit for online casinos and SEK100 (€10) cap on bonuses is scheduled to expire by the end of June 2021, after its extension by the government in December 2020.  The limit was introduced in June 2020 as temporary responsible gambling measures for COVID-19 pandemic.

In November 2020, the government launched an inquiry into illegal gambling and ways in which to tackle it. It will investigate payment blocking, licensing requirements for suppliers and review confidentiality issues that could help fight match-fixing and other crimes. According to the review so far, there seems to be significant room for improvement. The inquiry is due to be concluded by the end of June 2021.