Posted in Industry October 11, 2019
Swedish Gambling Authorities Met all License Holders in Sweden
On Tuesday, September 17, the Swedish Gaming Regulator Spelinspektionen held a meeting with every license holder in the country. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss various aspects of regulation within the state. Representatives from the Gaming Inspectorate, Swedish Tax Agency, Swedish Consumer Agency, and Financial Police also attended the meeting. Topics on the agenda included responsible gambling, match-fixing, and money laundering. The aim of the meeting was to address the tension between Swedish authorities and operators that has arisen since the regulated market opened on January 1.
Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of the Swedish trade association for online gambling, expressed satisfaction with how the meeting went. He appreciated that the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) listened to the issues raised by operators. However, Hoffstedt noted that the SGA did not provide sufficient explanation for why the regulations are stricter for licensed operators compared to unlicensed ones.
Hoffstedt considered the meeting beneficial overall. While not all compliance questions were clarified, the SGA appeared to listen to all of them. They promised to focus on protecting the market further and acknowledged that the ongoing penalty cases against licensed operators, compared to none against unlicensed ones, are not sustainable for a healthy licensing regime.
In April, the Swedish Gambling Authority issued warnings to several operators for allowing bets on a Swedish football match involving players under the age of 18. Eight gambling operators were fined in July for taking bets on underage events, prompting the operator association BOS to request a meeting with the SGA. However, the request was not granted, and four more operators were fined in August. The Swedish regulator later claimed that the fined operators were not accustomed to the strict regulatory enforcement.
Robin Olenius, the communication manager for Betsson Group Sweden, appreciated the efforts of the authorities in holding the meeting but felt that channelization was not adequately addressed. He stressed that increased dialogue and information exchange would be beneficial for both authorities and operators.
Spelinspektionen revealed that many individuals who chose to self-exclude from gambling via the national self-exclusion scheme, Spelpausen, did so for an indefinite period. The majority of self-excluded individuals are men; however, the number of women using Spelpausen services is increasing and expected to reach 10,000 by the end of 2019.
With regards to taxes, many gambling operators that were active before the latest regulation reported a significant impact from the 18% Swedish gambling tax on their revenues. From January to July this year, these operators have paid over 2 billion SEK in taxes.
The meeting was well-attended, demonstrating the industry’s thirst for information and willingness to cooperate. The general reaction to the meeting was positive, although some questions remained unanswered, and certain areas still require further clarification. One particular area of concern is how the Spelinspektionen plans to maintain and increase the channelization process, which is crucial for achieving desired customer protection.
Anders Sims, head of communications for the SGA, acknowledged the importance of this issue to operators. He stated that the organization would continue to meet with operators to establish a shared understanding. The Swedish Gambling Authority intends to open ongoing dialogues to further clarify rules in the market.