A few weeks ago, we reported on the new licensing system brought in by Sweden to begin regulating online gambling in the country. While this has strengthened players’ abilities to gamble in a secure and integral environment, it has, for operators, caused a number of headaches – and in a recent letter, the Swedish regulator – Spelinspektionen – has told operators that will face fines unless they get their act together.
Since the new regulations were brought in on January 1st, 2019, Swedish operators must abide by a number of new rules and regulations. This covers everything from the minimum time it takes to spin the reels of a slot (3 seconds or more), to giving players the ability to self-exclude from specific games on a casino’s website.
While the changes have received criticism, it does pave the way towards a more structured, fair market for Swedish players.
However, the Spelinspektionen has wasted no time in ensuring operators are following through on the terms of their licenses, and not even a month after the new licensing rules were brought in, they’ve written a letter to all 66 operators who they awarded a license.
Notable Failures Listed In Letter
Within the letter, it details how – already – the regulator has received “many complaints and tips on deficiencies in gaming companies in several different areas.”
While the specifics haven’t been released, it appears as though the problems in question are to do with the lack of background checks being carried out by some of the licensed operators – and this includes the operators failure to check a new player’s name against the national self-exclusion register which is now operating in Sweden, much like we’ve seen in the UK.
This register – known in Sweden as the ‘Spelpaus’ – is designed to allow players to completely opt-out of receiving marketing communications from gambling operators, as well as allowing them to exclude from all of the Swedish-regulated gambling sites.
One of the issues noted in the letter, was that the regulator feels as though operators aren’t promoting the register – and other useful responsible gambling tools – on their websites, leaving vulnerable players no options when it comes to bringing their gambling into check.
The Spelinspekionen wants operators to display their logo clearly at the bottom of their website – and they also want links to responsible gambling tools and charities to be more readily available.
In the letter, it goes on to say: “Any operator whose website has yet to institute these requirements needs to take action “immediately” or face the consequences.”
Operators Can – And Very Likely Will – Face Financial Penalties
Spelinspektionen have directly warned operators that failure to adhere to these conditions – and other terms set out in the licensing agreement – will almost certainly lead to large financial penalties.
The letter states: “there are no exceptions” to these requirements and transgressors could face financial penalties of up to 10% of a licensee’s turnover or the complete revocation of its new Swedish license.
It’s very likely we’ll see the Spelinspektionen follow-through with their threats, and this is largely down to the fact that their publicity has been relatively negative thus far.
On January 14th – just a couple of weeks after licensees were allowed to accept Swedish players – local Swedish media reported that a number of self-excluded player had been able to still access online gambling websites – despite banning themselves through the national register.
The media reports also found that some of the major operators licensed by the regulator – including Betsson, Bwin, and Betsafe – were found to have send promotional marketing materials to players who excluded using the register. This is likely to infuriate the Spelinspektionem, and is likely one of the driving forces behind their heavy-handed approach to dealing with operators who aren’t sticking to the terms of their licenses.
Still, it’s not all bad news for Swedish players, and the regulator is continuing to deliver on its promise to award new licenses. In the last week alone, a number of new operators have received their licenses, including Lottomatrix Operations Ltd, and Pixel Digital ltd – Leovegas’ eSports mobile betting platform.
Whether fines are dished out remains to be seen, but one thing is clear; the Spelinspektionen isn’t messing around, and we’ll almost certainly see them carry through with their threats if operators are found not to bring their operation in line with Swedish legislation.