Sweden’s online gambling trade association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has urged the government to reject proposals imposing tighter advertising controls on the gambling sector.
A review of advertising standards had been proposed by the Gambling Market Inquiry led by Social Democrat MP Anna-Lena Sörenson, who was charged with evaluating the marketplace following its first-year post re-regulation in 2019.
Of concern to BOS was a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Finance which urged the government to re-classify gambling under a ‘special moderation’ advertising segment – forcing gambling to observe the same requirements as Sweden’s tough rules on alcohol advertising.
Mirroring alcohol, Swedish gambling advertising was forced to include ‘moderation warnings’ across all campaigns. However, of upmost concern to BOS was that a 9pm watershed would be imposed on casino and slots products across TV, radio and digital mediums.
Last week, the board of Spelinspektionen – Sweden’s gambling inspectorate – declared its support for the Ministry of Finance’s proposal, as the preferred outcome to moderate Swedish gambling advertising.
Advocates of the proposal said that Swedish gambling would simply mirror other European jurisdictions that have enforced a watershed on Casino advertising, whilst other forms of gambling advertising would not be restricted or prohibited.
Issuing a response, BOS stated its objections against tighter controls, which the trade body believes will further impact Sweden’s declining channelisation rates against the threat of a growing black market.
“This is another proposal from the Government that plays straight into the hands of unlicensed gaming companies in Sweden,” explained BOS Secretary-General Gustaf Hoffstedt. “The trump card of licensed gaming companies has been the opportunity to market themselves and thus channel gaming consumers into the safe Swedish licensed system.”
BOS underscored its outstanding concerns that the Swedish market had failed to reach its re-regulated channelisation target of 90% of consumers playing on licensed websites.
However, the trade body maintained its support for the government implementing effective advertising reforms, which will help promote licensed operators.
Hoffstedt remained sceptical of imposing tougher restrictions on online casino, as the gambling segment that had suffered ‘the most leakage’ to black-market rivals following the enforcement of SEK 5000 monthly loss limit during the pandemic.
“If the possibility of becomes even more difficult, the leakage out of the Swedish licensing system, and already 25% of the turnover for online casinos leaks out of the licensing system, will fall to even more critically low levels,” continued Hoffstedt, issuing a dire warning to the country’s regulator. “In the name of consumer protection, this proposal must be withdrawn.
“BOS cannot come to any other conclusion than the government’s formal and public opinion outcomes against this form of gambling since the Swedish re-regulation in 2019 is reflected in the catastrophically low channeling of online casinos today.”