Swedish daily newspaper escapes regulatory penalties for betting infractions

Spelinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Inspectorate, has decided to take no further action against daily newspaper Aftonbladet Hierta AB, after the firm made corrections to offset betting licensing infractions. 

An investigation was launched by the Inspectorate into Aftonbladet in June 2021 due to the firm offering “manager competitions” for a fee, with the objective of the probe to conclude whether this could be defined as betting under the terms of the Gambling Act.

The manager competitions functioned as a form of fantasy sports, in which readers could compete against each other with a functional team of players.

A payment was required to enter the competition – including a two-month subscription to Aftonbladet Plus – and a prize could be won dependent upon performance, such as iPhones and travel gift cards.

Due to the Spelinspektionen investigation, Aftonbladet removed all winnings with a value in money – such as the phones and gift cards – from its manager competitions, whilst also removing the option for fantasy players to purchase additional teams for SEK 79 (€7.5).

The Gambling Act specifically defines betting as “an activity where the participants have a chance to win a prize and where they bet on the outcome of a future event or that a special event will or will not occur in the future”.

Due to the corrections made by the newspaper to its manager competitions, the Inspectorate asserted that “there is no need to issue an injunction or ban on Aftonbladet”, whilst adding that it has “no opportunity” to decide on sanctions.

However, Aftonbladet has announced that it will consider the resumption of the distribution of winnings with a monetary value once the supervisory case has been finalised. 

The Spelinspektionen maintains that the managerial competitions are classified betting if prizes with a monetary value are handed out, and so are covered by the gaming law’s scope of application.

This is in contrast to Aftonbladet’s defence of its fantasy offering, with the news outlet asserting that the manager competitions function as a skill game and not a betting product.

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