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Sweden submits new gambling legislation for EC approval

The Swedish government has unveiled its long-awaited new gambling legislation that will authorise private operators to legally offer online gaming services in the country.

The new legislation concerns all aspects of the Swedish gaming market, with certain forms of gambling reserved for state-controlled operators.

The most eagerly anticipated changes concern online gaming, which may be offered by licence holders who can demonstrate high levels of consumer protection, game integrity, and problem gambling support.

Online gaming licences will be valid for a maximum period of five years and cover online casino games, bingo and betting. The licences will be available to any eligible operators, although those based outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will be required to have a physical representative resident in Sweden.

Online betting will be permitted on real and simulated sporting events, and also on the outcome of lotteries, although operators offering lottery betting must have authorisation from the lottery rights holder.

The proposed legislation also states that licensed online casino operators may host an annual land-based poker tournament, subject to a maximum participation of 10,000 players.

Online gambling will be available to players over the age of 18 who reside in Sweden and establish an online gaming account. Operators will be required to verify the identity of players before they are allowed to play, unless they can provide a temporary gaming account. They must also re-verify a player's identity upon first withdrawal.

Temporary gaming accounts will not be allowed to issue payments to players, and self-excluded players will not be allowed to open a temporary account.

The proposed legislation also states that licensed online gaming operators may only receive payments to a gaming account from a payment service provider authorised under the Payment Services Act, and that all player deposits must be segregated from operational funds.

It also includes Duty of Care provisions, which require operators to protect players against excessive gambling and help them to reduce their gambling where necessary. This must be achieved by monitoring player activity for signs of problematic gameplay.

Any free-play games must be operated fairly with the same random outcome of real-money games, while real-money games must not give players the impression of a near win when this is not the case.

Operators will also be prohibited from offering bonuses to players, except for in the first instance.

Other player protection measures in the draft legislation include mandatory self-assessment tools, deposit limits and self-exclusion.

In terms of marketing, operators will be prohibited from marketing to self-excluded players, or to regular players after they have closed their account, unless they specifically opt into receiving further communication after their account is closed.

Licensed operators will be allowed to advertise on TV, Radio and online, as well to enter into sponsorship agreements, subject to the requirement that branding will not be aimed at minors, such as on children's football shirts.

Operators licensed in Sweden will be required to house their gaming systems inside the country, except for when they are authorised in another jurisdiction which has entered into a cooperation agreement with the Swedish regulator, or when effective remote monitoring of the system can be guaranteed.

Also included in the legislation is a framework for blocking payments between Swedish players and unlicensed operators, and a notification system when players visit an unlicensed site, warning that the site is illegal and that the player will be liable to tax on any winnings derived from the site.

In addition to payment blocking and ISP warnings, illegal gambling operators will also face fines and prison sentences of between two and six years.

The legislation also states that licences may be issued from January 1st, 2019, including cases where the assessment of the operator is ongoing.

The proposed legislation was notified to the European Commission on December 19th and is subject to a standstill period expiring March 20th, 2018.


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