Spelinspektionen’s Illegal Gambling Strategy
The Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) has recently published details for its strategy to counteract unlicensed gambling activity in Sweden. The publication of the strategy comes as Spelinspektionen begins preparations to ramp up preventative efforts against illegal operators.
The Swedish Authority has stated that unlicensed gambling activity has had serious consequences on both consumers and the state. It detailed the fact that illegal operators do not necessarily offer the same levels of protection for players that licensed operators are required to offer. The state is also likely to lose out on tax revenue from such practices.
Spelinspektionen has therefore announced that going forward there will be a concerted effort to ensure that gambling in Sweden is pushed towards legal options.
The regulatory body has, however, admitted that showing which brands are actively targeting players is not an exact science. It has created criteria to assess potential breaches though. In this system, Spelinspektionen will check whether a business is offering deposits, withdrawals, and winnings in Swedish Kronor. The regulator will also check whether a company’s website and terms and conditions are in Swedish and therefore targeted at Swedish customers.
Spelinspektionen will also look at the contact information and customer service numbers on websites. Here, it will determine whether any phone numbers have a Swedish country code and if the operator (or its affiliates) market directly to Swedish customers.
According to the regulator, organizations that illegally target Swedish consumers are often based in other countries, which are often outside of the European Union.
“There is no simple solution or any tool that can directly exclude these illegal gaming operators from the Swedish market,” it explained. “However, Spelinspektionen believes that there are several stakeholders who can take steps to limit the opportunity and incentives to conduct illegal gambling in Sweden. Spelinspektionen will prioritize collaboration with these bodies.”
On a local level, the authority will be working with Swedish police and prosecutors, as well as the Swedish Consumer Authority and the Financial Supervisory Authority. It will also be signing memoranda of understanding with regulators in different jurisdictions. Spelinspektionen has already got agreements in place to work closely with the Malta Gaming Authority and the Gibraltar Ministry of Commerce’s Gambling Division.
A different side of the strategy will see Spelinspektionen working with licensed operators. The regulator has called upon these operators to help them to push unlicensed ones out of the market. To do this, such operators must not work with illegal organizations, especially by not providing them with solutions such as payment processing services or gaming content. In addition to this, it has been asked of licensed operators that they flag illegal or unlicensed activity.
Spelinspektionen will attempt to force unlicensed operators from the market by first administering warnings to the operators. After this, they will proceed to level fines at the illegal companies. The authority has admitted that there is no guarantee that such a strategy will work, and if this is the case it will turn to the police to take action.
Licensed operators will be required by law to take note of prohibition orders which instruct them to cease any involvement with unlicensed entities. The authority also has the power to seek and secure court orders that would stop payments to accounts which have been linked to illegal activity.
Licensed operators in Sweden have been warned that they might be in contravention of these controls. If a domain that is not licensed to operate in the country is determined to be targeting Swedish players is found to be under the control of a licensed operator there would be consequences. In such cases, the authority would take action against the licensed domains, and the company’s operating license could be revoked.
A Difficult Year for Spelinspektionen
This strategy has been published in the wake of a year where Spelinspektionen has been heavily criticized for what many have perceived as a focus on prosecuting wrongdoing by licensees instead of stamping out illegal activity.
In September, it was questioned as to why more focus has not placed the fight against unlicensed operators, after an information day whose purpose was to clarify the authority’s approach to enforcement.
An association of operators in Sweden, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) claimed that strict controls by Spelinspektionen on licensees would only benefit illegal operators. This controversial claim was made in November.
In the past week, Spelinspektionen has launched an awareness campaign, in an attempt to make Swedish consumers aware of its duties to them and of initiatives it has put forward to regulate the gambling market in the country.