Sweden sets out new criteria to combat illegal gambling

Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has called on industry suppliers to avoid serving unlicensed online gaming operators, while warning licensed operators to ensure that other brands within their group are not engaged in illegal activity.

The regulator set out the advice in a new strategy document outlining its plans to combat illegal gambling, which will be based on a Dutch-style prioritisation system.

This will see it prioritise enforcement action against unlicensed operators targeting Swedish consumers using criteria such as the availability of Swedish currency deposits and withdrawals, Swedish language customer support, or marketing aimed at Swedish consumers.

Gambling sites that meet these criteria but do not allow players located in Sweden to register an account will not be considered to be targeting Swedish consumers.

“It can be assumed on good grounds that those who engage in illegal gambling activities over the internet are usually headquartered in countries other than Sweden, often outside the European Union,” Spelinspektionen states.

“This poses special challenges for Swedish authorities. There is no one simple solution, or any tool that directly excludes the illegal gaming operations from the Swedish market. However, Spelinspektionen sees that there are several industry participants who can take steps to limit the opportunity and / or incentives to conduct illegal gambling activities in Sweden.”

This will see the regulator work with the police and consumer protection agency to bring criminal charges against unlicensed operators, as well as with regulators in other jurisdictions where such operators may be licensed.

Spelinspektionen also believes that Swedish licensed operators have a responsibility to combat illegal gambling by refusing to work with suppliers and payment processors who also serve unlicensed operators.

“For example, payment service providers and software providers can act by placing demands on their customers and partners,” the regulator explains. “Marketing companies can in turn act by working only with licensed gaming companies and thus avoid promoting illegality.”

The strategy document notes that licensed operators and consumers are best placed to provide tips about illegal gambling to enable the regulator to begin investigations and where necessary, apply for a court order to request payment blocking.

The Swedish regulator is also considering implementing a new warning system where consumers attempting to access an unlicensed site from Sweden will be displayed a message warning them that the activity is illegal.

The document also warns operators to be vigilant of group activities which could impact their Swedish license.

“Some of the companies that are licensed to provide online games in Sweden are included in one group with several other companies. If a situation arises where one of the companies within the same group provides online games that are targeted at the Swedish market without the necessary license, Spelinspektionen will also act against the licensee,” it warns.

“Intervention against the licensee can then take place, for example, by remark, warning or license revocation in accordance with chapter 18. section 12 of the Gaming Act.”

The regulator adds that previous violations will make operators ineligible for new licenses, while senior executives who have served at such companies will also be deemed inappropriate.

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