Sweden’s Riksdag has voted on new measures to be applied to the Gambling Act 2018, allowing the government to continue its reform of Swedish gambling’s standards, protections and market safeguards.
Policy proposals were reviewed and recommended by Kulturutskottets, Sweden’s Cultural Committee, which submitted the ‘Enhanced Gambling Regulation Bill’ to the Riksdag for regulatory approval.
This will see certain existing caveats of Sweden’s current gambling legislation, the Gambling Act 2018, replaced with updated provisions, which have been published online by the Spelinspektionen.
A key focus is on clamping down on unlicensed operators, with the Committee’s report stating that a licensing system will be in place where all active operators ‘must have a licence and actors without a licence must be shut out’.
MPs were required to vote on seventeen individual amendments put forward by the bill, to modify the Swedish gambling sector’s land-based, online and monopoly disciplines.
In the Committee’s report, legislators have been particularly welcoming of the decision to introduce gaming licences for suppliers, praising the notion as helping combat illicit operators.
On measures to reduce harmful gambling, the Riksdag rejected a proposal to classify gambling as a “special moderation” advertising category, requiring specific risk warnings for consumers.
MPs rejected gambling being classified in the same advertising criteria as alcohol and tobacco, advising that an industry specific moderation requirement be adopted by the Gambling Act, warning audiences of risks of specific games and gambling services.
The Committee added that a proposal for ‘moderation in the marketing of games’ was ‘well-balanced’, and recommended that the Rikstag adopt this measure.
This included a policy that moderation should be observed when promoting games, whilst legislators added that an overall assessment must be made to determine whether a policy can be seen as being in moderation or not.
“Decisive for the assessment should be how the marketing is likely to be perceived by the circle to which it is directed, the medium used and the content of the marketing,” the Committee’s report explained.
An exemption on ‘bonus restrictions’ was allowed to promote “games for good causes”, however, the Riksdag denied a proposal for a “review of bonus opportunities” for licensed B2C operators.
As stands, Swedish operators must continue to promote player bonuses as a one-time customer sign-up incentive.
The Committee did approve of further ‘Game Break’ requirements to be adopted by Spelpaus.se, as Sweden’s gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen should lead the self-exclusion scheme’s development and how self-exclusion rules are applied on licensed operators.
A proposal for the “prohibition of games on credit” was rejected, as the Committee awaits for the conclusion of a separate investigation on Swedish debt/credit lenders to be presented to Swedish stakeholders – “an assignment must be reported by May 3, 2023 at the latest.”
MPs also evaluated the Bill’s stance on the ongoing restructuring of Svenska Spel, the Swedish state-backed gambling monopoly.
The Bill states that Svenska Spel must conduct business in a way ‘that it does not contravene the competition legislation’.
Under the planned restructuring, Svenska Spel will be divided into two companies, one responsible for the competitive forms of gambling and another for the ‘monopolistic forms’.,
Upholding the plans, the Committee agreed with the Bill’s assertion that ‘no change is currently necessary’, rejecting motions to alter the course of action.
Lastly, as with other European jurisdictions, Sweden has also backed plans to investigate what the committee calls ‘casino-like features in computer games’ – i.e. video game loot boxes.
“Lottery and casino-like features in computer games are a relatively new phenomenon,” the Committee explained.
“It is often about children and young people who come into contact with such elements through games in the form of so-called loot boxes.
“Worth noting is that it is often monetary transactions that are made to be able to play on lottery and casino-like elements of computer games. It is easy to happen that the amounts for this gambling quickly go away.”
The report concluded stating that although knowledge raising efforts about gambling-esque features in video games are welcome, further investigation is needed to investigate consumer protection in this space.
Should the Committee’s proposals be taken on board by the Rikstag, the decisions could shape the future of Swedish gambling for the foreseeable future, and potential pause over a year of political debate on the issue.