Regulation

Swedish government launches illegal gambling inquiry

3 minutes read
Sweden’s Minster for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi has launched a new inquiry that will explore ways to strengthen efforts to stamp out illegal gambling and match-fixing in the market.

Gunnar Larsson, director general of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, has been tasked with leading the inquiry, which aims to identify obstacles to effective enforcement against offshore operators, and to propose solutions to improve controls. 

Its work will be informed by the country’s gambling regulator Spelinspektionen’s experience, namely difficulties with securing payment blocks to the offshore sites. The inquiry will also assess efforts taken by the authorities to date. 

“We have a responsibility to protect vulnerable consumers from illegal gambling, but also to protect the [licensed companies] in the gambling market from unfair competition,” Shekarabi said. “Increased efforts are needed to exclude illegal gambling from the Swedish gambling market. 

“We are now also intensifying the work against match-fixing and organised crime,” he added.

As a result Larsson must also look at new ways for the Swedish authorities to step up anti match-fixing efforts, and assess current efforts by both Spelinspektionen and the regulator’s Match-Fixing Council.

It follows numerous calls from licensed Swedish operators for the authorities to focus efforts on tackling illegal gambling, rather than devising new restrictions for the regulated market. 

In a consultation on proposals to extend controls for online casino, such as a SEK5,000 deposit cap, until June 2021, it was a key theme brought up by operators.

LeoVegas, for example, set out a range of measures that the Swedish government should take including IP and payment blocking, and implementing a licensing framework for B2B suppliers. 

The inquiry has therefore been welcomed by operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), a frequent critic of the government’s gambling policy. 

“This is an initiative from the government that we welcome,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said. “The first two years of re-regulated gambling market in Sweden has been marked by repressive measures from authorities and the government towards Swedish licensed operators, whereas unlicensed operators have been left untouched. 

“Meanwhile a growing proportion of the Swedish punters have been abandoning the Swedish licensing market, with online casino as the most extreme example with a leakage out of the system of at least 25%,” Hoffstedt said. “Considering the Government’s goal is that at least 90% of Sweden’s gambling shall stay within the licensing system by January 1 2022, that goal appears very distant.”

He said that the government appeared to have understood and accepted that there were flaws in its policy, after having them regularly pointed out by the regulated market over the past two years.

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