Actors within the Swedish gambling market have faced changed conditions for conducting business operations in Sweden since the new Swedish Gambling Act entered into force on January 1, 2019. Subject to a few exemptions any company that carries on gambling activities in Sweden must, according to the new legislation, hold a license.
According to the gambling act, all marketing of gambling must be moderate. Moreover, marketing should provide a factual, balanced and fair presentation of the marketed gambling form and the chances of winning. Commercial messages should be limited to relevant facts about the game, presented in the most factual form possible and without extraneous elements.
Despite the new rules on gambling, gambling advertising in Sweden has increased significantly since the beginning of 2019. The Minister of Civil Affairs, Ardalan Shekarabi, has publicly criticized the gambling industry’s behavior and demanded a reduction of gambling advertising. In an attempt to find a solution, Ardalan Shekarabi asked all gaming companies with licenses in Sweden to meet at the Ministry of Finance. The meeting concerned gambling advertising that was aggressive in its design and dominated the advertising market in terms of quantity.
Shekarabi held that, if the industry will not come to an agreement or own solution, which will lead to a noticeable change, the government will consider legislative actions that will restricts gambling marketing even further.
As of today, 95 Swedish gambling companies hold active licenses for gambling businesses, and 23 out of those have already been imposed with fines or other sanctions. Many of these sanction have been triggered by breaches of new restrictions regarding advertising.
Violations of the self-suspension registry
According to the Swedish Gambling Act, all gambling companies with a Swedish gambling license must be connected to the national self-suspension registry called “Spelpaus” (Swedish for “gambling break”). Spelpaus is an online national register through which gamblers may enlist themselves in order to be blocked from access to all sorts of gambling at gaming operators regulated by the Swedish gaming licenses. In addition, all types of direct marketing that involves gaming advertising directed to the individual in question must then also be blocked. The registration at “Spelpaus” disables access to all operators and markets, and it is consequently not possible to only block certain operators or market. However, the individual can determine the duration of the blocking, which can be set from 1 month and until further notice.
The Swedish Gambling Authority was alerted at the beginning of this year by some gamblers who claimed that they, despite their registration at Spelpaus, still received marketing and could access gaming accounts at two gambling companies under Swedish licenses. The Swedish Gambling Authority initiated an audit, which revealed shortcomings of both gaming operators in terms of the compliance to the Spelpaus register and the supervision of the marketing towards the individual gamblers.
One of the companies was imposed a warning and a penalty fee of SEK 4,000,000 (equivalent to approximately 400,000 EUR), while the other company was received a reprimand and a penalty fee of 100,000 SEK.