Svenska Spel blasts SGA's match-fixing proposals

17 February 2020

Svenska Spel has hit out at proposed measures put forward by the Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) to combat match-fixing in the country, arguing that the ban on betting on rule violations still leaves plenty of scope for manipulation.

Last month, Spelinspektionen put forward an amendment to Sweden’s gaming rules that would see operators prohibited from offering odds on rule violations, such as yellow cards in football or faults in tennis.

At the time, the regulator said the measure would help efforts to tackle match fixing  by removing any potential reward for athletes that commit certain acts for match-fixing purposes.

A consultation over the proposals concluded on 14 February, and Svenska Spel used the opportunity to voice its opposition to the plans. Chief executive Patrik Hofbauer said the measures do not go far enough to protect sports, counteract gambling fraud or strengthen consumer protection.

“Much sharper action is needed if we are to win the fight against the match fixes; one of these is to ban all easily manipulated gaming objects,” Hofbauer said. “The proposal provides apparent protection, but will in practice have a very limited effect.

“We therefore propose a tightening of the regulations and hope that Spelinspektionen will take our views into consideration.”

Hofbauer said that while the regulator intends to ban betting on certain aspects of the game, consumers will still be able to bet on other events such as corners and throws. He said that, as is the case with yellow cards, these in-game events can be easily manipulated.

“Games on corners and throw-ins are at least as easy to manipulate, so the logic of this boundary is difficult to see,” Hofbauer said. “Instead, we think that [betting on] all easily manipulated game events should be banned.”

Hofbauer also raised concerns that the proposed bans would only apply to sport events taking place in Sweden, whereas games and competitions being played elsewhere would not be covered by the measures.

As such, Hofbauer and Svenska Spel put forward alternative measures for the regulator to consider. First, the operator said that the ban should apply to all events in a game or competitions that can be easily manipulated.

The operator said the ban should extend to all gambling businesses that hold a licence in Sweden, rather than sports events taking place in the country. Svenska Spel also said bookmakers should be limited to the events they can offer betting on, with the operator saying that the higher the level of the sport or event in question, the harder it is to manipulate the results.

In addition, Svenska Spel said licensed operators should be required to report all suspicious events to the regulator immediately, rather than just once per year as proposed by Spelinspektionen.

As part of this approach, Svenska Spel called for Sweden to accede to the Council of Europe’s so-called Macolin Convention, which has already been signed by 27 countries.

Spelinspektionen’s proposals also attracted criticism from Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), Sweden’s trade association for online gambling, which said that by bringing bets on these events out of the regulated market, the authorities would lose the ability to monitor suspicious betting on events and to effectively police match-fixing.

Meanwhile, Svenska Spel has announced that it will not accept bets on Swedish football team Syrianska FC for the foreseeable future after concerns were raised over possible links with match-fixing.

“Svenska Spel works on the basis of a precautionary principle to ensure the highest possible safety and integrity standards for the betting markets it offers, and we exclude teams from our offering for a number of reasons," Dan Korhonen, head of sports betting and game safety for Svenska Spel, explained.

“The club’s financial situation, information from the judiciary or sports associations are some examples of what may be the reason why we choose not to offer bets on a specific team.”