Posted in Industry October 11, 2019
Swedish Gambling Authorities Met all License Holders in Sweden
On Tuesday, September 17, the Swedish Gaming Regulator Spelinspektionen met with every license holder in the country to discuss various aspects of regulation within the state.
Multiple Authorities Involved
Aside from the key members from the Swedish Gambling Authority, individuals representing the Gaming Inspectorate, the Swedish Tax Agency, Swedish Consumer Agency, and Financial Police also attended the meeting. Items on the agenda for discussion included responsible gambling, match-fixing, and money laundering. The purpose of the meeting, in general, was solving the tense atmosphere between Swedish authorities and the operators. There have been several quarrels between them since the regulated market opened on January 1.
Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of the Swedish trade association for online gambling, was satisfied with how the meeting went down. Hoffstedt appreciated how the SGA listened to operators’ issues. However, he added that the SGA didn’t put much effort into explaining why the regulations are more strict towards licensed operators than toward the unlicensed ones.
According to Hoffstedt, it was a beneficial meeting. The SGA didn’t clarify every compliance question that the license holders had, but they seemed to listen to all of them. They promised to focus more on protecting the channelization further on. There have been over 40 ongoing penalty cases towards licensed operators, and none towards unlicensed ones, which is not sustainable in any healthy licensing regime.
In April, the Swedish Gambling Authority issued warnings to several operators that were found to a Swedish football match that featured players under the age of 18. The licensing jurisdiction fined eight gambling operators for taking bets on underage events in July, forcing the operator association BOS to request an urgent meeting with the SGA. However, the request wasn’t granted, and four more operators were fined in August. The Swedish regulator claimed later that the fined operators simply weren’t accustomed to the strict regulatory enforcement.
Robin Olenius, the communication manager for Betsson Group Sweden, appreciated the authorities’ efforts in holding the meeting but felt that channelization wasn’t adequately addressed. He said that increased dialogue and information exchange is beneficial for the authorities as well as operators. ’All stakeholders appreciate these kinds of meetings’, says Olenius.
Spelinspektionen revealed that a lot of individuals that chose to self-exclude via the Spelpausen national self-exclusion scheme had done so via an indefinite period. Men represent the majority of self-excluded individuals. However, the number of women choosing to use Spelpausen services is growing, and it could very well reach 10,000 by the end of 2019.
As for the taxes, many gambling operators who were active before the latest regulation (January 1) have reported a significant impact from the 18% Swedish gambling tax on their revenues. The operators have paid over 2 billion in SEK from January to July this year.
What Was the Outcome?
The event was well-attended, which shows the thirst for information. It also shows that the industry is eager to learn more and that it wants to cooperate. The general reaction to the meeting was positive, but some questions remained unanswered while some areas still need further clarification. One of these areas is on how the Spelinspektionen intends to maintain and increase the channelisation process, which is vital to achieve desired customer protection.
Anders Sims, head of communications for the SGA, said that he understands the importance of this issue to operators. He added that his organisation would continue meeting with operators in order to create a shared understanding. According to him, the Swedish Gambling Authority will open more ongoing dialogues to further clarify rules in the market.
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