Svenska Spel demands stricter measures against match-fixing

29 April 2020

Svenska Spel has once again claimed Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen's needs to go further in its efforts to prevent match-fixing, arguing the latest proposals do not go far enough to stop betting-related corruption.

Last week, the Swedish gambling regulator proposed limiting betting to the top four divisions of football and banning betting on training matches or friendlies entirely.

The regulations follow measures put forward by the regulator in January this year 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. Svenska Spel also argued that these rules failed to do enough to protect sports, counteract gambling fraud or strengthen consumer protection.

While groups such as operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) have criticised the proposed rules for being too strict and only helping the unlicensed market, Dan Korhonen, product manager for sports betting and game safety at Svenska Spel, said more needs to be done in the fight against match-fixing.

"It's a step in the right direction, but it's still a long way to go before we have all the tools needed to stop match fixing," Korhonen said.

Korhonen said that the rule to only allow bets on matches featuring clubs from the top four divisions may work well for domestic matches in Sweden, but could still lead to betting on more at-risk matches in some other countries where the fourth tier of football may be a much lower level.

“For Sweden, this is a correct boundary in accordance with the recommendations of the National Sports Federation, while in Estonia, for example, it would mean games on extremely low divisions,” he said.

In addition, Korhonen said he wished to see betting on the number of throw-ins and corners within a game banned, noting past investigations suggested fixers had targeted these markets. Korhonen said it was “very strange” that objections to these bets had been ignored.

However, Korhonen also said the proposals went too far in other areas, citing the ban on friendlies. He pointed out that international friendlies are a major part of the footballing calendar and said betting on these games should still be allowed.

“This would mean that you can only offer games on competition matches played by our Swedish senior and U21 national teams,” Korhonen said. “The national team plays many friendlies every year and not to allow licensed gaming companies to offer games on these would be very unfortunate.”

Korhonen added that the gambling industry has a responsibility to fight match-fixing and must do so in order to protect its reputation.

“It should be obvious that the gaming industry should take responsibility for the sport and protect it from match fixing to the greatest extent possible,” Korhonen said. “In order to strengthen the industry's long-term credibility, responsibility should always go before profit.”

The operator had previously spoken out after seeing an increase in betting activity on Sweden's lower leagues, following the suspension of sporting action arond the world as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Yesterday, Svenska Spel announced that its revenue ticked up 0.7% in the first quarter of 2020 to SEK2.14bn (£173.5m/€199.4m/$217.0m) while profit grew by 33.6% to SEK545m, despite the effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

On the same day, a new report commissioned by BOS found that Sweden’s channelisation rate to the licenced market for online casino and sports betting are well below government targets and in decline, with the rate for sports betting falling between 80% and 85%.