Spelinspektionen proposes ban on lower league betting

24 April 2020

Spelinspektionen has launched a consultation on updated anti-match fixing safeguards, with the Swedish gambling regulator now proposing a limiting betting to the top four divisions of football.

This would mean operators could only offer bets on the top level Allsvenskan, second-tier Superettan, Division 1 Norra and Södra, and six regional Division 2 leagues.

Furthermore, betting on Swedish Cup would be limited to matches featuring teams from the top four tiers. Markets for matches involving foreign clubs would only be permitted when each participating team is from the top four tiers of each country’s footballing pyramid.

Operators would only be able to take bets on international matches from under-21 level upwards.

Finally, betting on training matches or friendlies would be prohibited entirely. Similar measures could be introduced for other sports, Spelinspektionen added.

The proposal comes amid mounting criticism of operators that offer odds on lower level and non-competitive matches in Sweden and overseas. Earlier this month Svenska Spel chief executive Patrik Hofbauer and chairman Erik Strand condemned operators that offered betting on lower-league training matches, and called for a total ban on betting on amateur sports.

The restrictions on betting markets would be introduced alongside the measures put forward by the regulator in January this year. This proposal aimed to ban betting on rule violations, - such as yellow cards in football - betting on teams or athletes losing, and betting on individual performances on athletes aged 18 or under.

Operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) was quick to condemn the proposal as “decriminalising match fixing”, though Svenska Spel argued it failed to do enough to prevent match-fixing.

International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), meanwhile, issued a detailed response explaining that there was little evidence the measures would have a discernible impact on protecting sporting integrity. Instead, it warned, the new restrictions could reduce regulated sports betting revenue - while just 8.9% of gamblers bet on rule violations, these players accounted for around 40% of revenue, it said.

The consultation, which runs until 6 May, invites BOS, fellow trade body Spelbranschens riksorganisation (Sper), the Swedish Sports Confederation (Riksidrottsförbundet) and Swedish football’s governing body Svenska Fotbollförbundet (SVFF) to comment on the updated proposal.

It comes after Sweden’s Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi announced a series of restrictions for online casino. From 1 June until the end of 2020, players will only be permitted to deposit SEK5,000 (£401/€459/$495) each week, while bonuses for newly registered players will be limited to SEK100.

BOS immediately criticised the controls as liable to increase migration from regulated to unregulated sites, while the European Gaming and Betting Association echoed this assessment in its response.