Sweden adopts legislation to re-regulate gambling market

The Swedish government formally adopted legislation Thursday to re-regulate the country's gambling market, with the licensing process for online gaming now expected to begin on August 1st.

Set to enter into force on January 1st 2019, the new gambling act and licence system provides that companies operating in the Swedish gambling market must have an authorised licence, and that operators without a licence will be shut out.

"Unregulated gambling has taken over and gambling is used in criminal activities," said Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi. "It is 14 years since the first of a line of gambling inquiries was appointed. It is now time for us to move from words to action and regain control of the Swedish gambling market."

The government explained that stronger consumer protection needed to be in place for gambling, and that the negative effects of gambling must be limited. A new offence, gambling fraud, will be introduced and a special cooperation council established to tackle match-fixing.

"We are reinforcing the Swedish Gambling Authority, granting it more, sharper tools," continued Shekarabi. "Unlicensed operators will be shut out of the market and licence-holders must conduct their activities in accordance with the law.

"Today we are also instructing the Swedish Agency for Public Management to follow up the reform to quickly make any amendments to the act if the goals of the reform are not achieved."

The legislation adopted today states that licensed operators have a comprehensive duty to protect gamblers from excessive gambling, and includes strict requirements for moderating gambling marketing.

Gamblers must be able to exclude themselves from all forms of gambling, and bonuses will not be permitted at any time other than the first gambling occasion.

The government will also look to block payment transactions between gamblers and unlicensed operators to ensure unlicensed companies are shut out of the market. Internet service providers will also be ordered to set up warning messages for websites offering unlicensed gambling. Promoting gambling without a licence, for example through advertising, will be criminalised.

Sweden submitted its iGaming legislation to the European Commission (EC) in December, with the standstill period expiring on March 20th.

Supplementary regulations were sent to the EC last week, containing detailed provisions regarding the licensing procedure, responsible gambling, the processing of personal data, supervision and fees.

These are subject to a standstill which expires on July 2nd, and include proposals for betting and gaming licences to cost SEK400,000 each (or SEK700,000 for a combined licence), and confirmation that regulator Lotteriinspektionen can begin accepting licensing applications from companies after August 1st.


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