Gustaf Hoffstedt: BOS – Swedish market requires clear guidance on under-18 wagering criteria

Gustaf Hoffstedt – BOS

Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary-General of Swedish online gambling trade association BOS, has requested that gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen offer clarity on recent fines related to ‘betting on sports events’ sanctioned under Chapter 8 of Sweden’s revamped Gambling Act.

Requesting an ‘urgent meeting’, the BOS leader urges Spelinspektionen to offer ‘clear and detailed guidance’ on Chapter 8 and its board definition, related to “betting may not relate to events where the majority of the participants are under the age of 18”.

Writing to Spelinspektionen governance, Hoffstedt details that Swedish online gambling incumbents maybe unintentionally breaching Swedish gambling laws due to a lack of clarity on definition and interpretation of Gambling Act Chapter 8 provisions.

BOS sanctions a ‘call for clarity’ as Sweden’s regulatory authority fines eight licensed incumbents with penalty charges ranging between SEK 700,000-to-10 million for offering betting markets on apparent under-18 sporting events.

“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, in particular around the issue of offering odds where there may be participants who are under 18,” said Hoffstedt.

“In the absence of such guidance BOS was surprised and frustrated to learn of the decision taken by the Authority to sanction several of its members without prior warning.”

Detailing stakeholder concerns, BOS underlines that members have on several occasions asked the regulator to provide guidance on how it interprets sporting events involving under-18 athletes.

Hoffstedt added: “We would ask the Authority to clearly define what constitutes a ‘participant’ and also to provide clarity on whether operators are permitted to offer markets where 50% or more of the participants are over 18 (as indicated in Chapter 8, of the Gambling Act.”

On Tuesday, the governance of Stockholm listed Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) temporarily withdrew its Swedish sportsbook services for flagship Rizk and Guts brands, stating that it could not operate wagering services due to ‘uncertainties over market compliance’.

In its statement, BOS underlines that its members have taken ‘precautious steps’ to comply with Gambling Act provisions and its broad interpretations, which have seen bookmakers amend markets and even remove all under-19 football betting markets.

“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,” Hoffstedt continued.

“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; the loss of a licence would have extremely serious implications, not only in Sweden but for their entire businesses.”

BOS ended its statement calling for an ‘open dialogue and exchange of information’ helping to ensure the highest levels of compliance, which in-turn should establish a good working relationship between the regulator and its licensees.

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