Sweden to consider igaming advertising ban

24 April 2019

A new investigation into gambling advertising in Sweden will consider a number of new controls to halt what lawmakers consider to be overly aggressive marketing practices by the country’s licensed igaming operators, including a blanket ban on advertising.

The investigation will be handled by the Gaming Market Commission (Spelmarknadsutredningen). The commission was set up in 2018 to assess the impact of regulatory expansion on the Swedish horse racing and sports industries, and to explore measures to reduce the harmful effects of gambling.

The Spelmarknadsutredningen has now been tasked with developing additional measures to limit gambling advertising in the country, and asked to deliver a report on the matter by October 1, 2020.

It has been asked to consider a number of options, including whether special category-specific controls should be introduced, similar to those in place for alcohol advertising.

It will also look at whether certain elements promoted in advertising, such as bonuses, jackpots and free spins, should be limited, and whether additional information about gambling, such as the probability of winning, should be given more prominence.

In addition the Spelmarknadsutredningen will look at stricter controls, such as limiting gambling advertising during sporting broadcasts, special restrictions for games where there is a greater risk of players developing problem gambling habits. It has also been asked to assess the consequences of a partial or total ban on gambling advertising.

The move comes amid increasing concern about “excessive” advertising by operators in the market, with Minister for Civil Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi first warning licensees of the need to roll back marketing in February this year. He called on operators to set out a strategy for ensuring they advertised responsibly by the end of March.

In March the country’s gambling regulator Spelinspektionen then set out plans to crack down on excessive advertising. This was followed by a new industry code of conduct, set out by operator associations Spelbranschens Riksförbund (SPER) and Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS).

“The measures the industry presented to me contained good parts, but were far from sufficient to deal with the situation,” Shekarabi said earlier today (March 24), however.

“Now the government is taking further action to stop the aggressive gambling advertising," he said. "It is about protecting Sweden's consumers.”

Svenska Spel, which competes against private operators via its Svenska Spel Sport & Casino subsidiary, has already decided to stop advertising its online casino offering for the rest of 2019.

The Spelmarknadsutredningen is a 19-member commission, led by special investigator Anna-Lena Sörenson, a former Member of Parliament.

Sweden's newly-regulated market generated turnover of SEK3.29bn (£271.3m/€313.8m/$352.8m) in the first quarter of 2019. Former horse race betting monopoly AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) leads the market with turnover of SEK1.07bn, with Svenska Spel Sport & Casino accounting for SEK577m of the total. Private operators' turnover amounted to SEK1.64bn.