Sweden Moves Ahead With B2B Licensing Plans

May 18, 2022
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The Swedish government has submitted a series of proposals, including licensing gambling software companies, prohibiting the promotion of illegal gambling and changes in requirements for “moderation” in marketing, to help protect children and the vulnerable.

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The Swedish government has submitted a series of proposals, including licensing gambling software companies, prohibiting the promotion of illegal gambling and changes in requirements for “moderation” in marketing, to help protect children and the vulnerable.

The provisions of the bill are entirely expected and in line with government announcements earlier this year, said Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, the online gambling trade group.

The group is “cautiously positive”, as the most striking thing is what is not in the bill — a ban on gambling advertising between 6am and 9pm.

The B2B licensing could help fight unlicensed gambling, Hoffstedt said.

The group’s only concern is about a provision for “adjusted moderation” in marketing, which “seems to be a paraphrase of risk classification” and its ambiguity could mean legal uncertainty, he said.

The legislature “should consider whether it really wants to introduce further uncertainty regarding the interpretation of regulatory measures, uncertainty that risks leading to protracted court proceedings”, Hoffstedt said.

The minister in charge of gambling issues hailed the bill’s proposals.

“We are now taking the next step to regain control of the Swedish gaming market,” said minister of social insurance Ardalan Shekarabi, introducing the 191-page document on Tuesday (May 17).

“It is both about limiting aggressive gaming advertising and stopping gaming companies that do not have a licence”, said the minister. “Strengthened gambling regulation is a prerequisite for strong protection for consumers.”

The online gambling industry had earlier expressed relief that measures were not as tough as feared. One proposal that was not included would have set a series of risk classifications to protect consumers, with online slots in the toughest category.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s State Treasury said government revenue and problem gambling rates have remained little changed since online gambling licensing launched in January 2019.

The Treasury found that, overall, the licensing programme has “improved the conditions” for the legislature’s goals, that gambling “should be under public control, covered by strong consumer protection and protect the income from gaming for (non-profit groups) and the state”.

In January, the Legal Affairs Council recommended licensing software companies, along with a ban on promotion of illegal gambling and tightening restrictions to protect children and the vulnerable.

Earlier this year, the finance ministry proposed a 120,000 kronor (€11,500) fee for gambling software licences, to cover the Swedish Gambling Authority’s costs.

Most of the amendments proposed this time would take effect next January 1, the government said.

Software licensing would take effect on July 1, 2023.

The other main Swedish gambling trade group, SPER, supports the “stronger consumer protection” contained in the bill, as well as a “tougher stance against unlicensed companies that do not comply with the strict requirements for consumer protection that exist in Swedish legislation”.

“Restraining unlicensed gambling is the number one priority right now,” said SPER chief executive Maria Wennerberg Sedigh.

SPER includes non-profit lotteries and government-owned Svenska Spel.

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