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About the Government’s work for a re-regulated gambling market
To bring order to the gambling market and strengthen protection for consumers, a new Gambling Act was introduced on 1 January 2019. The Act includes stronger regulation of gambling advertising and the introduction of a national licence system for gambling operators. The Government is now continuing its work to address the remaining challenges
About the licencing system
The Gambling Act is based on a licencing system where all operators in the Swedish gambling market must have a licence, and where operators without a licence will be excluded. Those who are granted a licence have a far-reaching obligation to protect players from excessive gambling. The regulation applies to all gambling available in Sweden, which also includes gambling over the internet intended for the Swedish market.
Under the Act, the Swedish Gambling Authority, which is the supervisory authority, can take action against gambling operators that do not comply with the Act. These measures can be injunctions on correcting operational shortcomings or deciding on prohibitions combined with fines, penalties or, as a last resort, revoking a licence. Alongside the Swedish Gambling Authority, the Swedish Consumer Agency is the supervisory authority for the Gambling Act’s marketing rules.
When the licencing system was introduced, the Swedish Gambling Authority set up Spelpaus, a self-exclusion list that all gambling operators with a Swedish licence must connect to. Via www.spelpaus.se, people can exclude themselves from gambling for money and, in doing so, stop receiving direct marketing material about gambling. This exclusion applies to all licenced gambling operators in Sweden offering registered gambling.
Stronger regulation of gambling advertising
Under the Gambling Act, a degree of moderation is to be employed when advertising gambling. This means that gambling operators must ensure that advertising is kept within reasonable limits and that it may not be directed to people under the age of 18. It is also prohibited to send direct advertising to someone who has excluded themselves from gambling. The prohibition also applies to advertising that is sent digitally, if this can be considered to be personalised in a similar manner as, for example, emails.
Despite the new Act and the requirement concerning moderation, consumers are still exposed to aggressive gambling advertising. The Gambling Market Inquiry was therefore tasked with proposing rules to further limit gambling advertising. In addition to these matters, the Inquiry was also to consider greater opportunities to exclude illegal gambling and new financing models for the horse industry and the sports movement. In December 2020, the Inquiry presented its final report and in January 2021, the proposals were circulated for comment.
Follow-up and supervision
When the proposed new Gambling Act was presented to the Riksdag in April 2018, relevant government agencies were instructed to evaluate and analyse the effects of the Act and to ensure that the industry complied with it.
The Swedish Agency for Public Management is tasked with following up and evaluating re-regulation of the gambling market. The follow-up and evaluation should examine matters such as the effects on public health, consumer protection, the State’s revenues from gambling, and the financing of purposes in the public interest. The Swedish Agency for Public Management is to report the results of its follow-up and evaluation by 1 April each year until 2022.
Inquiry for stronger measures against unlicenced gambling and match fixing
An inquiry was appointed in November 2020, tasked with identifying obstacles and proposing solutions to enable more effective supervision of illegal gambling. The remit also includes examining how to strengthen efforts against match fixing. The inquiry is to present its report by 30 June 2021.
Other regulations in the gambling act
In addition to the licencing system and stronger regulation of advertising, the Gambling Act contains several other measures:
- Offering bonuses is to be limited to the first gambling instance.
- A new offence on cheating (match fixing) has been introduced.
- Players must specify a maximum amount limit.
- A panic button for immediate self-exclusion from online gambling has been introduced.
- The prohibition against credit for gambling has been tightened.
- To exclude unlicensed operators from the market, it is now possible to block payment transactions between gamblers and unlicensed gambling operators.
- The Swedish Gambling Authority can order internet service providers to place warning messages on websites that offer unlicensed gambling.
- The scale of penalties for unlawful gambling and promoting such activities has been raised.
- Promoting gambling without a licence, such as through advertising, has been criminalised.
- Gambling that requires a licence is taxed at 18 per cent. Gambling for purposes in the public interest will continue to be tax exempt. If a player wins money on an unlicensed gambling website, the winnings must be taxed.
- Certain forms of gambling remain reserved for the State and the public interest sector. This applies to gambling on offline casinos, gambling on slot machines, and lotteries and bingo.
The inquiry ‘A re-regulated gambling market’, which led to the new Gambling Act, is the third of its kind and was appointed during the previous electoral period. Earlier, the Lottery Inquiry (SOU 2006:11) and the Gambling Inquiry (SOU 2008:124) completed their work and presented their findings to the Government, with no further measures taken.
What happens next?
The Swedish Agency for Public Management will present the annual report on its remit to follow-up and evaluate the re-regulation of the gambling market by 1 April 2021.
The referral bodies are to submit comments concerning the Gambling Market Inquiry’s proposals by 30 April 2021.
The inquiry for more effective supervision of illegal gambling and match fixing is to present its proposals by 30 June 2021.