Spelinspektionen Announces Betting Bans to Combat Match-Fixing in Sweden

  • The new regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2021
  • No more markets for rule violations such as yellow cards, penalties, expulsions
  • The achievements of individual underage athletes are also off the betting cards
  • Wagers banned on Swedish soccer games involving teams outside top four divisions, most friendlies
moustached soccer referee blows whistle while holding ball and yellow card
Sweden’s gaming authority Spelinspektionen is introducing new betting rules which include bans on rule violations wagers to help combat match-fixing. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No more bets on rule violations, under-18s

The board of the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) has finalized new measures to combat match-fixing, including a ban on betting on yellow cards in soccer games. The latest regulations will complement the current Gaming Ordinance and Gaming Act provisions and are set to come into force on January 1, 2021.

yellow cards, penalties, and expulsions

Sportsbooks will no longer be able to offer betting markets relating to rule violations during games and competitions, such as yellow cards, penalties, and expulsions. The measures also prohibit betting markets for the individual achievements of athletes aged under 18. The regulations will be applicable to all sporting events that take place in Sweden.

Betting will also not be allowed on domestic soccer games outside of the top four divisions in Sweden or on Swedish Cup games involving teams from the lower divisions. Only training games or friendlies at international level from under-21 upwards will be available to bet on. 

Soccer a high-risk sport

Soccer is considered a high-risk sport with regard to match-fixing, particularly when it comes to the lower divisions. There is little to no money made by practitioners at these levels, with surveillance also being poorer. This is why the inspectorate is focusing particularly on the sport, having engaged with various consultative bodies to formulate its latest measures. 

Speaking about the upcoming changes, Spelinspektionen unit manager Nicklas Hjertonsson said: “This is another step in the work of minimizing the risks of match-fixing and the threat to the integrity of sports that match-fixing poses.” The gaming authority believes the new rules will stop bettors from trying to “influence the outcome of gambling on the Swedish licensed market in the affected areas.”

Aligning with Sweden’s increasing crackdown on match-fixing, licensees will need to record any cases of suspected betting manipulation and submit a report to Spelinspektionen by March 31 every year.

Point of contention

Spelinspektionen has been looking at banning betting on rule violations and individual markets involving underage athletes since January

The trade association for online gambling operators in Sweden, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), has been against such a move. BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt believes the new rules will have little positive impact and could increase the risk of match-fixing. 

new rules will have little positive impact and could increase the risk of match-fixing

The International Betting Integrity Association has said there is not much evidence pointing towards the announced measures having a noticeable impact on the protection of sports integrity. It added that they might actually benefit the unlicensed market. 

State-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel condemned betting on low-level soccer training games during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for a betting ban on all amateur sports. Shortly after this criticism, Spelinspektionen launched another consultation relating to betting on lower-level leagues. The rules were then created and submitted to the European Commission in May.