A long-awaited inquiry into Sweden’s reorganized gambling market recommends the introduction of more restrictions into the sector, including limited advertising of products that are deemed to be of the highest risk to consumers.
The Gambling Market Inquiry (Spelmarknadsutredningen) was commissioned by Swedish Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi in 2018 ahead of the regulation of online gambling in Sweden in early 2019.
Former Swedish MP Anna-Lena Sörenson was appointed as special investigator and was tasked with overseeing the review of the Scandinavian nation’s gambling market over the first year and a half after its reorganization.
Ms. Sörenson said Monday that the inquiry was “a complex assignment that touched on a large number of different issues linked to gaming regulation” and that these issues “in some cases have required difficult trade-offs.” She added that she believes the recommendations outlined in the report can contribute to strengthening consumer protection and making regulation of Sweden’s gambling market more appropriate.
The inquiry focused particularly on additional measures for curbing unlicensed gambling activity. It recommended the introduction of a licensing system for providers of online gaming content and related software as well as measures preventing software providers that offer their products to Sweden-facing unlicensed operators from entering the country’s regulated iGaming space.
Advertising Restrictions and Stake Limits
Aside from measures aimed at the black market, the inquiry also recommended restrictions for locally licensed operators. It suggested that the Swedish Gambling Authority, Spelinspektionen, develop a risk classification system for gambling products that could help it make informed decisions as the agency tasked with overseeing the nation’s gambling market.
The report further recommended tighter measures on gambling advertising. For example, it called for a ban on local media outlets from advertising on behalf of international gambling operators. The report also said this ban should be extended to cover international media and video platforms.
In addition, the recently published inquiry recommends restrictions on promoting high-risk gambling products. It suggests these should not be advertised outside a 9 pm – 6 am window. As mentioned above, Spelinspektionen will be tasked with determining which products are high risk ones, with online slots and table games likely to be classified as such.
The inquiry calls for a temporary SEK5,000 deposit limit to be made permanent. The deposit cap was first introduced this past July as part of the Swedish government’s efforts to reduce gambling-related harm during the Covid-19 pandemic. The deposit limit was then extended through June 2021.
Minister Shekarabi welcomed the report’s recommendations and said that these would “form an important basis for the government’s forthcoming measures.”
However, Sweden’s gambling sector was much less enthusiastic with the inquiry’s recommendations. Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary-General of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the trade body representing locally licensed gambling companies, said that the proposed measures risk “deteriorating consumer protection” and eroding the local regulated iGaming space.
Mr. Hoffstedt added that “banning licensed gaming companies from marketing their services to Swedish consumers while leaving unlicensed companies free to offer their services to Swedish consumers is a bad proposal.”