Swedish Gambling Regulator Calls Meeting to Clear Up Confusion

  • Meeting called after major operators were fined for allowing bets on events involving players under 18
  • Many such companies are appealing the fines, stating the rules are too open for interpretation
  • 18 of all 67 license holders have been penalized by the regulator since the new rules were set in motion 
hands holding up a poster that reads the game rules are changing
The Swedish gambling regulator will hold a meeting to clear up confusion about the country’s new gambling framework.

Meeting to clarify gambling framework

Spelinspektionen, the gambling regulator in Sweden, is calling a meeting for all gambling license holders in the country. This is intended to clear up any uncertainty regarding the new gambling regulatory framework. 

The “information meeting” follows numerous calls from operators for clarity on the interpretation of the gambling rules that came into effect this year. It will take place on September 17 in Stockholm, for which an agenda will be sent to the license holders by mid-August.

Licensees hit with fines

The online gambling trade group Branschföreningen för onlinespel (BOS) recently spoke about their concern and surprise after the regulator inflicted heavy fines “without any prior warning being issued”. All fines were related to accepting bets on football games involving players who were under 18 years old.

There were eight operators hit with fines due to this offense. Among them is Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), which is behind two online sports betting brands in the country. The company, which was fined SEK3.5m ($371,000), is suspending its sports betting operations until there’s clarity from the gambling authorities regarding the rules. 

A number of parties are claiming that the current rules are too open for interpretation, which can lead to the unintentional breaches. According to the CEO of GiG, Robin Reed, his company is currently “in an impossible position” as a result.

All GiG bets that were not yet settled on the respective sports betting platforms will be honored in spite of the suspension. GiG is planning on appealing the fine along with bwin, the Stars Group, Betfair, and Bet365.

With the new regulatory framework only being in place since January 1, 2019, 18 of the 67 license holders have already been penalized by the country’s gambling regulator.

New framework

Historically, Sweden was highly conservative with regard to gambling. There were many illegal operators, which led to the government setting up its own set of bookmakers. Gambling became nationalized in 1943, and in 1997 the government partnered with a lottery company to form Svenska Spel. Online poker was made legal in 2005, under the control of the state’s gambling monopoly.

However, due to the growing influence and popularity of online gambling, the authorities could not do much to stop offshore online platforms from targeting Swedish bettors. This led them to end the monopoly on the sector and open it up to global operators.

Sweden’s gambling sector has three distinct segments: online gambling and sports betting, bingo and lotteries, and slot machines and retail casinos.

Mitigating problem gambling

A number of rules are in place to try and stop the increase of problem gambling in Sweden. Operators need to closely monitor the betting activity of their players to spot any warning signs. Free bets and bonuses are only available to new customers.

There have been calls for some circles to introduce a ban on gambling advertising similar to what is in place currently in Italy. A commission in Sweden is looking into the potential effects that such a ban might have.

Many industry leaders believe that the new regulatory framework was rushed. It was only in June 2018 that the official decision to end the government monopoly was made, with operators allowed to open their operations in January 2019. 

Recent controversy

There have been recent reports that some online casino affiliates having been using the self-exclusion list from the country’s regulator to target those with gambling issues through promotional material.

These surfaced after an investigation revealed that such sites, which do not hold Swedish licenses, were purchasing Google AdWords relating to Spelpaus. This led to gambling site ads being displayed at the top of the search results as users googled the Spelpaus self-exclusion website to seek help for their gambling issues. According to Google representatives in Sweden, these ads have now been removed.