Gambling advertising restrictions: why is the BOS against them?
The government has proposed to strengthen controls on illegal gambling. Operating a casino with unlicensed games as well as promoting such websites will be forbidden. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance wants to take a new look at gambling advertising in Sweden. Today, casino games are presented as a way to “break the boredom” and earn some money. However, new players should be aware of the risks and possibility of losing all their funds. This especially applies to the younger generation who are often bad at money management.
Back in 2021, the Ministry proposed “special moderation” rules for gambling advertising. The Swedish Gambling Authority, known locally as Spelinspektionen, has backed the initiative. Gustaf Hoffstedt, the Secretary General of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, or BOS, (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel), has also voiced his support for the new rules. He emphasized that the BOS was committed to fighting illegal gambling in Sweden. However, the Association is strongly against severe restrictions on gambling advertising.
Sweden’s Minister of Social Security, Ardalan Shekarabi, added that the new advertising laws will impact both licensed operators and illegal platforms. Such measures will allow the government to restore control over the country’s gambling industry. According to Shekarabi, tightening gambling regulations is essential for protecting consumers.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance plans to introduce additional fees for direct marketing, such as, for example, mailouts inviting people to sign up and make a bet. All licensees will be required to provide important information that can help the Ministry follow the online gambling market developments.
Swedish gambling industry in numbers
In January, the officials suggested implementing a deposit cap of 4,000 SEK ($439.2). The limit (initially 5,000 SEK) was first put in place in July 2020 due to fears of a rise in problem gaming during the pandemic and has been extended several times since then. In October 2021, the Ministry of Finance proposed imposing new strict measures against offshore operators and blocking all illegal forms of gambling.
According to the Swedish Ministry of Health, 90% of adults have tried gambling at least once. Even by the most conservative estimates, the annual turnover of the industry exceeds 40 billion SEK. In 2017, the turnover of the domestic gambling market was estimated at $2.7 billion. There are several licenses available in Sweden, namely:
- For gambling activities on cruise ships in international waters;
- For sports betting;
- For state-run games;
- For public lotteries and bingo.
The undisputed monopolist of the Swedish gambling industry is Svenska Spel, a large company with more than 2000 employees and several offices across the country. Svenska Spel controls around 53% of the country’s domestic market.
Online gambling is one of the most popular leisure activities in Sweden. The country pays great attention to cybersecurity, therefore its gambling industry is well protected. For example, when registering at online casinos, users are required to specify:
- Full name and address;
- Social security number;
- Bank account details;
- Amount one plans to spend on online games in 7 days.
The information provided is strictly confidential and is not disclosed to third parties. It is used for creating individual offerings and generating reports. Based on received data, tax rates for operators are calculated.
The cost of obtaining a license depends on the type of activity. For example, getting an online casino license will cost you 400,000 SEK. The Swedish regulator offers a combined license for sports betting and casino games. Other permits cover bingo, lotteries, and even horse racing.
Online betting in Sweden is actually quite attractive for European operators. Many sportsbooks have been trying to enter the Swedish market to promote their products. Among those who succeeded are such big names as Unibet, bwin and bet365.