Swedish court upholds offshore promotion ban

4 September 2018

Sweden’s gambling regulator has claimed victory after the country’s two leading newspapers were told they cannot provide links to unregulated offshore companies.

Aftonbladet and Expressen each appealed an injunction imposed by Lotteriinspektionen in 2013 demanding they cease offering links to foreign gaming sites on their websites.

However, the Chamber of Commerce civil court found that linking to foreign gaming advertising is a measure of a pronounced commercial nature that is not protected by the freedom of expression. The court also ruled that the promotion ban in the lottery law is not contrary to European Union law.

“It is positive that the tribunal will take a stand against promotion of lotteries without permission in Sweden,” said Camilla Rosenberg, director general of Lotteriinspektionen, in a statement. “We assume that anyone who violates the promotion ban by linking to or promoting foreign gaming sites now ends with this.”

Under the Lottery Act 1994 it is prohibited to promote participation in a lottery organised outside the country for professional purposes. Lotteriinspektionen contended that clickable links hosted by Aftonbladet and Expressen were promotions, in a similar nature to traditional advertising.

In the last five years, Lotteriinspektionen has issued a number of similar injunctions against other media companies regarding the same type of linking. Under the Lottery Act, the regulator can notify the injunctions and prohibitions necessary for compliance with the law, and impose penalties.

The new Game Act 2018, which will become law in January, also prohibits the promotion of games not regulated in Sweden.

Household names such as Svenska Spel and Betsson were among 22 companies that applied for Sweden’s new gambling licences on the first day of submissions on August 1.

iGamingBusiness.com understands that up to 70 licence applications are expected to be made ahead of the re-regulation that sees state-owned Svenska Spel’s gaming monopoly end.

Lotteriinspektionen recently urged applicants to submit their documents as early as possible to be sure of being licensed before January.