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Sweden proposes “special moderation” rule to treat gambling ads like alcohol

| By Nosa Omoigui
Sweden's Ministry of Finance has proposed changes to the way gambling is advertised within the country, with new rules set to come into effect in July 2022 to require “special moderation”, as is already required in alcohol ads.

The amendments to the gambling act call for “special moderation” in ads, with the intention of classing gambling similarly to alcohol due to addiction risks. Currently, law simply calls for “moderation”.

The amendments have been put out for consultation, with responses due by 14 October.

First suggested in Sweden’s Gambling Market Inquiry, the proposal suggests that gambling marketing should be exempt from the Freedom of Expression act, as it contains a commercial element which means it should be regulated by ordinary law.

Instead, gambling would be marketed similarly to how alcohol is in Sweden, whereby the marketing “must not be intrusive, include outreach or urge people to use alcohol”. The Ministry of Finance added that the requirement for special moderation applies to the medium in which ads are displayed, the content and design of the advertising and any other marketing methods.

In addition, the detail, typography and layout “must be assessed in the light of the requirement for special moderation”.

The new proposals have been rejected by Sweden’s online operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespe (BOS).

BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said: “Swedish-licensed gambling operators have since a peak in 2018-2019 halved their advertising purchases. I do not understand how low the investments in marketing must be for the government to be satisfied.

“Gaming advertising from Swedish licensed gambling companies fulfills an important function for a safe and secure gaming market. Advertising strengthens the motivation for gambling consumers to choose Swedish-licensed gambling instead of the alarmingly high proportion of unlicensed gaming. “Already today, every fourth gambling krona leaks out of the licensing system when it comes to online casino, and with that, the strong consumer protection also sips away.”

This isn’t the first time that BOS has been critical of Ministry of Finance proposals, having objected to parts of the Gambling Market Inquiry and a proposed extension of the country’s deposit cap for gaming earlier this year.

Regulator Spelinspektionen, however, previously praised the proposal in a consultation response.

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