Recent government proposals to update Swedish gambling law are a relief because none of the online gambling-unfriendly measures floated over the past few months were implemented, an online gambling trade lobbyist has said.
Last month, the government proposed licensing business-to-business companies and a ban on promotion of unlicensed gambling, but did not take up suggestions that would have been burdensome for online gambling operators, said Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS).
“Things could have been much worse,” he said. “It actually looks quite good.”
The government did not pick up on suggestions that risk classifications for different kinds of gambling be instituted as a way of strengthening consumer protection, even though they are supported by government-owned Svenska Spel.
Also not advanced were proposals to toughen advertising standards by requiring that marketing display “special moderation” instead of the current standard of “moderation”.
Svenska Spel had opposed such a measure, saying it would restrict sports sponsorships for gambling companies, including itself.
That the government has apparently chosen not to drastically narrow the scope of advertising to “special moderation” is a challenge to the industry, Hoffstedt said.
“When the government shows trust in the industry, we cannot reply with ‘not moderate’ marketing, at least not in the volume of the start of re-regulation,” he said, in a reference to the January 2019 opening of the licensed market.
“This is a beautiful moment for us — we are the adults in the room,” Hoffstedt said.
He was speaking on a panel this week at the online-based European Gaming Q1 Meetup, organised by the Hipther Agency.
One mildly unfortunate development is that the Swedish Gambling Authority and the courts are being asked to evaluate how risky gambling games are when they examine advertising, Hoffstedt said.
The problem is that companies will ask for guidelines on what is acceptable “moderate” advertising and probably will not get them, he said.
So they will probably learn what is acceptable only by being fined by the regulator, Hoffstedt said, noting that fines have ranged up to 100m Swedish krona (€9.4m).
Government officials are probably over-optimistic about the positive effects of B2B licensing, as they think it would dramatically improve channelisation, Hoffstedt said.
It might have some effect, to the extent that B2B companies stop working with unlicensed operators pitching Swedish residents, but not a drastic one, he said.
Licensing would start on July 1, 2023.