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BOS attacks proposal for tighter gambling ad controls

| By Marese O'Hagan
Swedish operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) has rejected the government's proposal that gambling advertising should be subject to "special moderation", stating that the proposal must be "withdrawn".

The proposal is part of a consultation announced in June by Sweden’s Ministry of Finance, which would alter the country’s 2018 Gambling Act.

The consultation proposes that gambling advertising be treated similarly to alcohol advertising in terms of restrictions.

BOS set forth several objections, focusing mainly on the role of licensed operators, channelisation rates and the wider implications of the advertising restrictions.

Firstly, BOS argued the importance of marketing to Sweden’s licensing system, stating that it plays a central role in directing players to regulated sites.

“The reason why it is important that gambling takes place on the designated licence market is- only there do Swedish legislators and authorities have command of consumer protection,” said Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, in a statement.

BOS also referred to low channelisation rates, specifically how this may have already been affected by the government’s stance on online casinos.
The state has a goal that channeling in the Swedish gaming market should amount to at least 90% as of January 1, 2022… the most recently estimated channeling is 85% and thus below the target of 90%,” continued Hoffstedt.

BOS cannot come to any other conclusion than that the government’s both formal and public opinion outcomes against this form of gambling since the Swedish re-regulation in 2019 is reflected in the catastrophically low channeling of online casinos today.” 

BOS also warned of low channelisation rates in its response to the Gambling Market Inquiry, which was launched in November 2020.

However, BOS agreed that gaming marketing in 2018 and 2019, before the market was re-regulated, was “very extensive”. It pointed to the steps taken after this, when advertising was greatly reduced, and expresses that after a period of stabilisation the previous “aggression” is no longer present in gambling advertising.

It appears unclear what kind of problem the government considers it needs to address.” said Hoffstedt.

In addition, BOS questioned how gambling-related entities, such as journalism and sports, could suffer as a result of a reduction in gambling advertising.

It cannot be the intention of the Swedish people to deny Swedish independent quality journalism such a decisive source of income, without offering a financial compensation that fully covers the losses,” continued Hoffstedt.

The same applies to the sports movement, which, thanks to sponsorship agreements, receives multi-million sums from gaming companies, in some cases multi-billion sums.”

Last week, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) voiced support for the advertising restriction proposal.

BOS has objected to several attempts to further regulate gambling in Sweden. In July, the body expressed that tight restrictions would promote illegal gambling in response to a survey conducted by Spelinspektionen.

In May, BOS claimed that the illegal gambling market would “rejoice” at the news of the proposed extension of the deposit cap, which was put in place in response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In April, the body rejected the idea that all gambling in Sweden be run through a state-operated portal, which was proposed after a 2020 report from the country’s Equality Commission.

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