Sweden's BOS calls for clarity on gambling regulations

9 July 2019

Swedish operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has requested an urgent meeting with the country’s gaming regulator in the wake of a number of operators being fined for an apparent breach of the country’s Gambling Act.

BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt wrote to Spelinspektionen today (July 9), saying he had grave concerns about the future regulatory environment in the country, with operators in danger of unintentionally falling afoul of the regulator’s interpretation of the Gambling Act.

Hoffstedt’s letter centred around Spelinspektionen’s decision to hit eight licensees with fines ranging from SEK10m to SEK700,000 for apparently offering odds on sporting events featuring a majority of participants under the age of 18.

He pointed out that BOS’ members were totally committed to “upholding the integrity of sport, protecting minors from undue harm and - more generally - complying fully with regulatory obligations associated with holding a Swedish gambling licence”.
 
“However, in order to be able to do this, it is imperative that the regulator provides clear and detailed guidance on what is expected of operators in order to be fully compliant with the regulations,” Hoffstedt wrote.

He noted that BOS members had asked the regulator for detailed guidance on restrictions around betting markets on events involving under 18s. In particular, he said, Spelinspektionen had been asked to clarify whether operators were entitled to offer markets on events where 50% or more of these participants are aged 18 or over, as set out in the Swedish Gambling Act.

Members had requested meetings with the regulator to discuss the matter directly, he wrote, only to find it unwilling to engage in a dialogue on the matter.

Hoffstedt also noted that having received no guidance from the regulator, BOS members had removed all under-19 football markets in an attempt to comply with Spelinspektionen’s interpretation of the rules.

"However, such actions appear to have unfortunately had little impact on the Authority’s decision-making process and very large fines were handed out to four of BOS’s members,” he said.

While a number of operators have already announced their intention to appeal the fines, Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has taken the step of suspending sports betting on its proprietary Rizk and Guts brands.

“Such outcomes are clearly undesirable for Swedish consumers,” Hoffstedt said. “In light of these recent developments, BOS remains very concerned about the future regulatory environment in Sweden and the prospect of operators unwittingly falling foul of the Authority’s interpretation of the regulations.

“The Authority has already taken strict action against one company by revoking its operating licence and it is of the utmost importance for BOS to ensure that none of its members face the same threat,” he explained. “The loss of a licence would have extremely serious implications, not only in Sweden, but for their entire business.”

He therefore urged Spelinspektionen to agree to an urgent meeting with BOS to establish clarity around its interpretation of Swedish regulations.

“We believe that such a meeting would represent a considerable step towards establishing a constructive dialogue between the regulator and the industry going forward.
 
“Based on experience in other jurisdictions, establishing a good working relationship between the regulator and its licensees is of fundamental importance,” Hoffstedt said in conclusion. “Open dialogue and exchange of information helps to ensure high levels of compliance, protects consumers, boosts channelling rates, and ultimately underpins the successful functioning of the market."