BOS welcomes Swedish gambling bill omitting extensive marketing restrictions

The Swedish government has published a new bill for re-regulation of the country’s gambling industry, covering a range of areas including player protection and marketing. 

Key caveats of the legislation include prohibition of promotion of illegal gambling and advertising of unlicensed gaming. However, bans on televised marketing of legal betting and gaming products are not included. 

Additional marketing requirements include an ‘adjusted requirement of moderation’ when advertising games to consumers, a ban on ‘certain direct mail’ and granting the Spelinspektionjen authority with the ability to issue a ‘disruption fee’ to companies in violation of the law.

Responding to the Bill, Sweden’s online gambling trade association BOS noted that the omission of a ban on television marketing was welcome, as advertising has been the target of gambling reform advocates in the country for the past year. 

“It is entirely in line with what the government announced it would include and we are cautiously positive of this bill,” said BOS Secretary General.

“The most striking thing is actually what is not included in the proposal, such as a ban on advertising for gambling on TV, radio and streaming media between 06-21. 

“We are pleased that the government has listened to stakeholders in the gambling industry as well as several publishers who have pointed out the disadvantages of such a proposal.”

Ardalan Shekarabi, the Minister of Social Securities responsible for drafting the legislation, had previously outlined that ‘aggressive gambling advertising on the most dangerous games’ would be targeted. 

The Minister had also envisioned changes to licensing duties, and the published legislation appears to include this, aiming to introduce a ‘disclosure obligation’ for licence holders to allow authorities to track industry developments. 

Additionally, firms will require a permit for gaming software, whilst rules on bonus offers will be adapted for companies which provide games only for ‘public benefit purposes’ – e.g. lottery operators.

BOS did maintain some reservations around the ‘adjusted moderation’ clause, however, stating that this term of the legislation meant it was adopting a ‘cautiously positive’ attitude to the changes. 

“It seems to be a paraphrase of risk classification and the very ambiguity of what it actually means opens for legal uncertainty,” Hoffstedt added. 

“Here, the legislator should consider whether it really wants to introduce further uncertainty regarding the interpretation of regulatory measures, uncertainty that risks leading to protracted court proceedings.”

Lastly, the Bill also proposes a repeal of the 1982 law governing slot machine organisation, which would terminate the agreement between Sweden and Finland allowing the products on passenger ships. 

The timeline of the legislation will see the law come into force for gaming software licence holders on 1 July 2023, whilst the Sweden-Finland slots agreement will terminate ‘on the date determined by the government’.

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