New ad controls could have “unwanted consequences”, Svenska Spel warns

| By Marese O'Hagan
Patrik Hofbauer, president and CEO of Svenska Spel, has spoken out in response to the proposed “special moderation” rule for gambling advertising in Sweden, stating that it could lead to ”unwanted consequences”.

The proposal was brought about by Sweden’s Ministry of Finance, which announced a consultation on reforms to gambling advertising in June this year following the Gambling Market Inquiry in November 2020.

The proposals included a new rule to treat gambling advertising in the country with “special moderation”, meaning that it would be treated like alcohol advertising.

The law currently simply calls for “moderation”.

Hofbauer stated that Svenska Spel supports the idea behind the proposal, particularly the implications for consumer protection, but are curious as to whether further restrictions on gambling advertising are necessary.

“We question whether the proposed proposal would, in practice, lead to any increase in consumer protection,” said Hofbauer.

“Even today, marketing of games is already limited.”

Hofbauer commented specifically on the proposed change in wording in the law from “moderation” to “special moderation”, claiming that it could lead to “unwanted consequences.”

“At first glance, it [the change in wording] may seem like a small difference, but special moderation is very restrictive for marketing.”

“Based on how the requirement is applied in alcohol legislation, special moderation means very limited opportunities to convey, for example, moods and emotions in advertising.”

Hofbauer listed a number of potential consequences, beginning with Swedish sports.

“The proposal would limit the possibility of sponsorship and have very significant consequences for the financing of sports,” said Hofbauer.

Svenska Spel estimates that sports sponsorships from gaming companies adds up to SEK800m (£67.5m/€79.9m) per year.

“There will be less money for both elite sports and grassroots sports, which would be felt in everyday sports.”

Hofbauer also drew attention to the economic impact of the restrictions, emphasising how Svenska Spel supports local shops through agreements with operators. He also commented on the potential increase in illegal gambling from unlicenced operators.

As an alternative, Hofbauer suggested a clearer definition of “moderation”.

“A better alternative is to have current requirements for moderate marketing clarified through practice, in order to then evaluate the need for a restriction on gambling advertising based on risk classification.”

The changes in advertising are set to come into effect in June 2022.

Last month, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) spoke out in support of the proposal.

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