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Sweden to bring in B2B licences and new ad controls

| By Marese O'Hagan
Sweden's Ministry of Finance has presented a number of new safer gambling proposals, which include the introduction of a gaming software licence for gaming suppliers.

The proposals were set out yesterday (26 January) during a press conference by minister Ardalan Shekarabi. They are set to come into effect on 1 January 2023.

Under the rules, a gaming software license would become mandatory for suppliers who offer their services to operators in Sweden. This, according to the ministry, would help to shut down unlicensed gambling in the country.

Other proposals include banning the promotion of illegal gambling, as well as extending an existing ban on unlicensed gambling. The ministry also suggested adjusting how gambling is marketed in Sweden to protect young people and those with gambling problems from being exposed to advertising, bringing in “stricter requirements for moderation”.

In June 2021, the ministry proposed that gambling advertising should require “special moderation” as is already in place for alcohol marketing. This was supported by Spelinspektionen, Sweden’s gaming regulator.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general for the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), said it was “unclear” whether the rule change announced today involves requiring “special moderation” or a new standard.

Hoofestedt added that BOS is in support of the proposed measures to fight unlicensed gambling, but does not support further restrictions on gambling marketing in Sweden.

“[The] BOS position is negative regarding the government proposing additional restrictions for gambling, especially if it is targeting online casino,” read a statement from BOS.

“We believe that licensed online casino needs wide marketing possibilities to be successful in the combat against unlicensed gambling.”

The ministry also suggested a market disruption fee, which would be issued if operators directly market to customers – for example, in the form of email – in a disruptive manner.

The final proposal includes obligating licensees to provide information that will allow the ministry to follow trends and developments in the gaming market. Hoffstedt said BOS was “cautiously positive” about this.

Ardalan Shekarabi, minister for social protection, said the rules were about both limiting the unlicensed market and limiting excessive advertising from licensed operators.

“We are now taking the next step to regain control of the Swedish gaming market,” he said.

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

Earlier this month the ministry launched a consultation on a deposit cap of SEK4,000 (£325.6/€389.2/$439.2) for casinos. A controversial deposit cap of SEK5,000 was put in place in July 2020, in response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic lockdowns. This was extended multiple times and ended in November 2021.

In October, the Ministry of Finance announced a crackdown on offshore gambling operators, which would permit the blocking of all unlicensed forms of gambling from the Swedish market.

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