Svenska Spel Backs Risk Classifications Above 'Special Moderation'

October 21, 2021
Swedish state-owned Svenska Spel has warned the government that applying alcohol-style restrictions on gambling adverts will lead to “unwanted consequences”.


Swedish state-owned Svenska Spel has warned the government that applying alcohol-style restrictions on gambling adverts will lead to “unwanted consequences”.

The operator’s comments follow the close of a government consultation on its proposal to treat gambling industry ads with the same “special moderation” restrictions currently applied to alcohol products.

Svenska Spel has instead reiterated its support for the introduction of risk classifications for different types of gambling products as a means for strengthening consumer protection.

Special moderation means “very limited” advertising opportunities for operators, risking the revenues of Svenska Spel agents and forcing sports to find alternative means of sponsorship, Patrik Hofbauer, the president and CEO of Svenska Spel, warned in a blog post on Wednesday (October 20).

All of these changes could have an impact on the revenues of Swedish licensed operators and, in turn, will see more consumers using black-market gambling sites, according to Hofbauer.

Svenska Spel currently sponsors and partners with numerous sports teams, leagues and associations in Sweden, as well as providing them with responsible gambling and match-fixing awareness training sessions.

The state-owned operator estimates Swedish sports rely on gambling firms for SEK800m (€80m) annually.

Instead, Hofbauer suggests that if the government feels the need to regulate advertising further, then restrictions must be based on the varying risk of different games.

Svenska Spel considers scratchcards and betting to be examples of low-risk games, whereas it sees online casino games as higher risk.

“By risk-classifying different forms of gambling, the legislation can, if necessary, be tightened in a targeted and more effective manner,” Hofbauer said.

A myriad of consultation respondents, including gambling trade groups, sports bodies and advertising associations, echoed Svenska Spel's concerns.

However, the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority (MPRT) argued in its consultation response it believes gambling operators will still have plenty of opportunities to promote their products even if tougher rules are introduced.

But despite acknowledging this, as well as the public health dangers of gambling advertising, the MPRT called on the government to wait before introducing stricter advertising requirements until it had assessed the likely impact on media organisations' advertising revenues.

The Swedish Gambling Association’s (SPER) consultation response rejected the government’s proposal in its entirety.

SPER similarly fears stricter moderation requirements will have “major negative consequences” in addition to the channelling as it believes it is unclear how lotteries and the non-profit sector will be affected.

Svenska Spel and the state-run Horse Racing Totalisator Board (ATG) are both members of SPER.

Additionally, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) rejected the government’s proposal, saying in its response it “plays into the hands” of unlicensed operators.

However, Swedish regulatory and health authorities appear to largely support the introduction of special moderation.

The Swedish Public Health Agency consultation says the proposal will increase consumer protection and reduce the risk of gambling problems.

To stop people using unlicensed offerings, the Swedish Public Health Agency advocates for the government to investigate measures to “deal with” unlicensed operators.

The Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) has also supported the introduction of special moderation, arguing it will clarify the current marketing rules, as well as lead to better consumer protection.

Similarly, the Swedish Consumer Agency argued the “risks to public health justify a high level of consumer protection” in its consultation response.

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