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Swedish audit office launches investigation into Spelinspektionen

| By Richard Mulligan
Sweden’s National Audit Office has launched an audit of Spelinspektionen (SGA) to investigate whether the SGA's supervision of the market is effective.
Sweden gambling

The Riksrevisionen investigation into Spelinspektionen (the Swedish Gambling Authority) will consider how the body has adapted to the challenges presented by the re-regulation of the Swedish gambling market in 2019. The results of the review are set to be published in September 2024.

In announcing the investigation, Riksrevisionen outlined Spelinspektionen’s responsibilities and mission. Riksrevisionen will consider how Spelinspektionen is meeting its obligation to supervise the regulated market, which was created to increase channelisation.

Ten-fold increase in unlicensed gambling

The Spelinspektionen audit announcement comes in the wake of new research showing visitor traffic to unlicensed websites has increased ten-fold since 2019. Data from the operator ATG shows channelisation rates for regulated online gambling in Q3 was between 70% and 82%.

Riksrevisionen also provided figures that suggest the Swedish gambling market is actually having a negative impact on the economy.

The goal of the Swedish gambling policy, it said, is “… a healthy and safe gambling market under public control”. It should “protect the revenue for the public and… provide good conditions for non-profit activities to obtain funding.” Riksrevisionen contended that the sector raises SEK6bn in tax while problem gambling costs society SEK9bn.

The audit will also consider if the re-regulated system, overseen by Spelinspektionen, is regaining control and protecting consumers.

Riksrevisionen said in a statement: “Expectations for the Swedish Gambling Authority’s supervision are high in the new, re-regulated system. At the same time, the authority’s conditions for carrying out supervision have changed.

“Before the re-regulation, Svenska Spel, ATG and the four largest national lotteries accounted for over 95% of turnover on the regulated market.

“After the re-regulation, a large number of new actors have been added and today the Gambling Inspectorate has supervisory responsibility over approximately 600 licence and permit holders. The fact that the legislation is largely new also means that there is a lack of practice.”

How well is Spelinspektionen supervising the market?

In figures released recently, gross gaming revenue (GGR) from Swedish licence-holders remained steady at SEK6.7bn (£498.8m/€573.8m/$611.1m) compared to the previous quarter.

The sharpest increase in turnover came from land-based casinos, registering a 30.5% increase year-on-year. GGR from non-profit lotteries in Sweden in Q3 was down by 8.26%. The GGR reflects a decrease of 0.6% year-on-year, while remaining steady at SEK6.7bn, the same as Q2 2023.

Spelinspektionen director-general Camilla Rosenberg earlier this month welcomed proposed changes to the Swedish Gambling Act that are designed to strengthen consumer protections.

Under the changes, operators would be required to obtain written approval in advance from customers for telephone-based gaming. Additionally, providers would have the right to access personal data relating to finance and health provided by customers. Gaming companies that violate the country’s Money Laundering Act will also face higher fines.

Meanwhile, Spelinspektionen recently called for a ban on gambling by credit card in a dissenting response to a government investigation.

The investigation concluded that the reasons against introducing a credit card gambling ban outweigh the reasons for a ban.

In response, Spelinspektionen reiterated its legal position that the Gambling Act outlaws licence holders from encouraging players to borrow.

Those that do, it said, are contravening their duty of care, as outlined in Section 1 of the legislation. The authority noted that in a recent survey of licensees some 60% offered payment by credit card.

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