Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the association of the Swedish online sector has severely criticized a 2020 report issued by the Equality Commission of Sweden (Jämlikhetskommissionen). The report in question called for the Government to make sure that all gambling services in the country are operated through a state-run portal. It also insisted on the provision of a constitutional amendment that would put further restrictions on gambling advertising in Sweden.
BOS released a statement as part of its response to a consultation on the document that was rolled out in August 2020. It took the local authorities two years to publish the document, which included a wide range of issues regarding the country’s society, including gambling in Sweden.
At the beginning of 2021, over 300 operators and bodies, including BOS, were invited to take part in the consultation and respond to the questions by April 12th, with the local online gambling industry association filing its official response on April 7th. It severely criticized the suggestions made by Jämlikhetskommissionen, including the one of a single-state portal and a constitutional amendment that would make it possible for regulators to impose stricter measures on gambling advertising in Sweden.
According to the trade body, the proposals were made after insufficient research on the industry and would not have been made if the body making them was better informed about the sector. BOS said it rejected the proposals and shared hopes that some public investigations in the future would be more focused on gathering enough information so that greater clarity could be brought on the issues.
More Restrictions on the Gambling Sector and Gambling Ads Proposed by the Equality Commission
One of the changes proposed by the report seeks for the country to have a much more important role guarding the sector through the local gambling watchdog Spelinspektionen rather than simply overseeing the gambling market in general.
In the proposal made by Sweden’s Equality Commission, the products offered by all licensed gambling companies would only be available for customers to use through a single state-run portal that could pretty much replicate the monopoly on the alcohol shops in Sweden.
As mentioned above, Jämlikhetskommissionen also insisted on the implementation of further changes in the sector. The Commission urged the competent authorities to impose a limit on the amount that could be spent by Swedish players on the services provided by all gambling operators within 24 hours. It also made a suggestion that the regulatory authorities could limit gambling to certain times.
So far, no proposal regarding the exact amount of the limits has been made by Jämlikhetskommissionen. For the time being, Swedish players are permitted to spend a maximum of SEK5,000 on online casino games every month. However, spending on other gambling services is not limited in the country.
Furthermore, the Equality Commission said that the country has to make some changes in gambling advertising. Although, this may not be an easy task for the authorities, because ads are currently covered by press freedom laws in Sweden, which makes it impossible for gambling regulatory bodies to impose restrictions on gambling adverts. This is also why Jämlikhetskommissionen has called for a constitutional amendment to be made so that some changes are brought to the status quo, similar to amendments applicable for alcohol and tobacco.
Sweden’s Equality Commission has insisted on the addition of some mandatory warnings on gambling adverts that inform potential users about the dangers associated with problem gambling.