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Compliance Updates

Is Political Tension Changing Sweden’s Gambling Laws?


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Is Political Tension Changing Sweden's Gambling Laws?
Photo: Christine Olsson/TT via AP
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Sweden has had a hectic year in the political world, with the coronavirus, the government drama, and backlash from the online gaming industry.

Sweden started in 2019 with a prime minister that barely made it into office. Facing a pandemic and then heavy restrictions of gambling, he quickly began to lose support. It finally came to a head when his party lost faith in him and voted no confidence. Löfven ended up resigning, stating it was because the government needed someone whose party would back them. Out of a job for only a month, he was re-elected by Parliament and chose to come back. Though Löfven has said, he would resign again if not able to pass the budget through parliament in autumn.

It’s not only Löfven who has been the target of heavy criticism. One of his closest allies, Ardalan Shekarabi, the minister for Consumer Affairs, has had his share of criticism as well. This stems from his work to regulate the gambling industry in the country. The primary criticism is connected to the fact that the government has interests in two gambling companies, Svenska Spel and ATG. Svenska Spel is fully owned and controlled by the government, and ATG is partially owned. This creates a very sensitive situation because they compete with private gambling companies. Svenska Spel has an unprecedented position among all the betting companies in the country, largely due to their many exclusive products. Furthermore, ATG enjoys a monopoly on all forms of horse racing which is extremely popular in Sweden. Hundreds of millions SEK is wagered every month in their exclusive horse betting products, and the monopoly enables ATG an exclusive opportunity to cross promote and expose their users to casino games and sports betting.

Strict rules proves hard to follow

On another note, there are a lot of rules in place that frustrates the gambling operators. One of the many rules in the new regulation package has to do with bonus offers. The bonus offers can not exceed the value of 100 SEK (about €10) and is only a one time offer per license and customer. Since many companies operate several casinos under the same license, customer confusion arises when they are ineligible to receive a bonus from a casino that appears “new” to them. In order to make sense of where to actually find a new casino bonus, it presupposes that the customer is fully informed about all the casinos and the license from which they operate. For many people it demands an extreme amount of research even though there are websites such as bastacasinobonus.se which tries to assist in this process.

There have been many cases where a licensed operator has been found guilty of breaching the current bonus rules. ATG and Svenska Spel have repeatedly done so themselves, but gotten out of it with warnings or minor fines. Other companies though have been fined amounts up to 100 million SEK in seemingly small instances such as when a refer-a-friend program was deemed illegal.

Recently the SGA (Swedish Gambling Association) lost a court case against Betsson Nordic. SGA claimed the gambling company was offering illegal bonuses and incentives. SGA tried to fine over SEK 20 million(£1.6m), saying it added costs over the years. The court, however, ruled in favour of Betsson Nordic, saying the fine lacked legal grounds. Usually though, the betting companies has little success contesting the rulings.

Sweden’s Government Facing Heavy Criticism

The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, or BOS (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel), represents gambling companies and game developers that target Swedish consumers. With members, BOS promotes integrity and responsibility within the industry, a safe gaming market, and shares knowledge of the industry. They also consider social protection to be given priority.

BOS has called out to the government to end the recently extended temporary restrictions following criticism of constraints by the Committee on the Constitution. As time continues on, more and more organisations and people advocate for the lift in the temporary laws. The Committee on the Constitution has the task of preparing matters concerning the Constitution. It also examines the work of the Government and government officials and is to inform the Riksdag of the results.

BOS also believes the government wanted to introduce a new gambling bill to the Riksdag before the general election. Possible extending the already extended gambling laws. Löfven has said that they are not focusing on new bills at the moment, as the fragile government is taking priority.

So when will laws change?

With all the chaos, it is hard to say if there are any changes coming soon to Sweden. Things are constantly being talked about, and dates are being proposed. However, the only concrete dates we have are the temporary gambling restrictions being removed in November of this year.

Compliance Updates

Pagcor’s efforts POGO-related crimes

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On January 31, 2023, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) learned through a news report that Soleil Chartered Bank issued a statement denying the issuance of a bank certification to Global ComRCI, PAGCOR’s third-party auditor for offshore gaming licensees, whose contract commenced in December 2017.

In relation to this report, PAGCOR would like to reiterate that since the assumption of its new management in August 2022, all contracts – including that of Global ComRCI – were put under review last September 2022.

PAGCOR’s new management is revalidating the veracity of the documents submitted by its third-party auditor, Global ComRCI. Should PAGCOR be able to prove that the documents submitted were spurious, it will immediately take legal action and cancel the contract of its third-party auditor, if found warranted.

PAGCOR would like to thank Senator Sherwin Gatchalian for shedding light on this issue during the senate investigation on January 23, 2023.

The state-run gaming firm reassures the public that it is conscientiously looking into the matter and will take the necessary actions to safeguard public interest. Further, PAGCOR upholds strict adherence of its offshore licensed operators and accredited service providers to whatever laws which may be applicable to them.

 

On offshore gaming-related crimes

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported during the Senate Hearing on January 31, 2023 that there was a rise in the number of recorded crimes related to offshore gaming operations in the country from 2019 to 2022.

PAGCOR denounces these criminal acts and will not sit idly in the face of these injustices.

Hence, to safeguard the integrity of the offshore gaming industry in the country, PAGCOR will continue to monitor the lawfulness of the activities of its accredited licensees and service providers. Should they be found guilty of engaging in criminal acts, the state-run gaming agency will not hesitate to impose sanctions and penalties, as provided by the law.

Further, PAGCOR will continue to strengthen its collaboration with concerned government agencies such as the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to combat all crimes being linked to offshore gaming operations.

PAGCOR would like to underscore that as a result of the inter-agency cooperation meeting held last September 2022 involving abovementioned agencies, there have been no reported criminal activities or kidnapping-related incidents of workers in the offshore gaming industry for over three months.

PAGCOR believes that while gaming operations – including offshore gaming – contribute significantly to government revenues, they must not be used as a vehicle for abuse and injustices. As the country’s gaming regulator, PAGCOR condemns these dreadful acts and will ensure that the local gaming industry will maintain the integrity of its operations.

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Compliance Updates

Stats Perform Awarded IBIA Data Standards Accreditation for a Unique Third Year in a Row

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Stats Perform has become the first sports data provider to receive the top independent mark of data quality and integrity in the sports betting industry for three consecutive years.

The objectively-audited International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) Data Standards accreditation highlights Stats Perform’s commitment to the integrity and quality of its sports data, which is used by leading licensed betting operators around the world.

Andrew Ashenden, Chief Betting Officer of Stats Perform, said: “Stats Perform is a long-term advocate for the highest standards of integrity and quality in sports data because we know it is critical for the accuracy and veracity of sports competitions and the betting markets that cover them.

“We were proud to become the first company to champion and receive the IBIA accreditation. Achieving the standard for an unprecedented third year in a row affirms the reason Stats Perform’s Betting and Opta sports data is chosen by the world’s leading sports federations, sportsbooks and pricing providers: it powers trusted experiences for millions of global sports bettors.”

The IBIA launched the Data Standards to ensure betting data providers would be independently audited and meet a range of high integrity and quality requirements. Stats Perform was the first company to come out in support of the initiative given its long-standing investment in the risk management of its data operations. Both Stats Perform and the IBIA had long recognised that high-integrity sports data collection is a critical pillar to protect sport and betting against corruption. The audit process is independently undertaken by eCogra.

Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, said: “Stats Perform’s successful third-year renewal of the Data Standards accreditation demonstrates the value leading sports data providers see in them. IBIA members also view the Data Standards protocols as an essential initiative, which have a positive impact on the sports betting environment.”

Aside from the Data Standards, Stats Perform is the longest standing Associate Member of the IBIA and provides a range of integrity risk management services to prevent, detect, and investigate match manipulation for numerous federations, regulators and sportsbooks, across multiple sports.

Jake Marsh, Global Head of Integrity at Stats Perform, said: “Stats Perform is dedicated to positively influencing the sport integrity ecosystem. Supporting the Data Standards accreditation is a key component in this strategy as it raises global data supply standards.

“We are proud to work closely with the IBIA and its members on related projects in managing integrity risk; this is further evidence of our commitment to the protection of sport.”

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Compliance Updates

The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority agree with BOS and find Svenska Spel advertisement to infringe the law

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The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority agree with BOS and find Svenska Spel advertisement to infringe the law
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Some time ago, BOS filed a complaint regarding Svenska Spel and TV4 to The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority, which is a governmental authority, for the fact that Svenska Spel’s Keno and Lotto draws on the TV channel do not take place during an advertising block, but on the contrary are broadcasted as a regular editorial TV program. Nor are the programs broadcasted with mandatory gambling consumer protection information.

Today, The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority made a decision on the matter. They go completely along the lines of BOS’s complaint and they find that Svenska Spel and TV4 are guilty of infringing the law. The authority state that there is no doubt that the features sent in TV4 constitute advertising, not editorial material. As a consequence TV4 will be liable to pay a fine.

“This a landslide victory for consumer protection when it comes to gambling and gambling advertisement in Sweden. Svenska Spel’s actions have threatened consumer protection in the Swedish gambling market with its hidden advertisement. We want it to be clear what constitutes gambling advertising, and we do not want the statutory disclosure obligation about the 18-year-old limit and contact information for gambling addictions to be circumvented through special schemes. We are pleased that The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority come to the same conclusion” says Gustaf Hoffstedt.

“We are also pleased that Sweden with this decision from the authority level the playing field on the gambling market. Svenska Spel, with the scheme of claiming that the Keno and Lotto draws did not constitute gambling advertising, was able to broadcast these outside of regular advertising time and thus competed on unequal terms for its monopoly products compared to its competitors, who lacked this opportunity. We are pleased to erase such behavior from the gambling market” says Gustaf Hoffstedt

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