Sweden’s new Moderate Party government has rejected a draconian crackdown on the advertising fortunes of the nation’s overwhelmingly progressive and cutting-edge gaming industry.
Led by the likes of Betsson, Kindred, Kambi, LeoVegas, Evolution Gaming, et al, Swedish or Swedish-origin gambling operators and developers have been at the fore of best practice in the industry, across world markets.
Betsson, for example, was the winner of this year’s prestigious EGR “Diversity and Inclusion Model of the Year” award.
Swedish gambling companies are among the top earners and employers in the nation of 10.25 million people — and they pay significant sums in taxes, which, according to some sources, approach SEK1.8 billion a year (£143m/US$172m/€165m).
Now, with palpable relief around the industry, Sweden’s new conservative coalition government, led by the so-called Moderate Party, has rejected a proposal to curb advertising of allegedly “higher-risk” gambling products.
Instead of an outright ban on publicising these “high-risk” products between 6am and 9pm, which was being mooted by hard-core anti-gambling activists, the government has decided to adopt a more liberal policy of “adjusted moderation” to regulate betting advertising.
To put this into greater context, such a policy falls well short of the hardline “special moderation” which alcohol-related promotion in Sweden is currently subjected to.
Nevertheless, the proposed new legislation has not been greeted with universal affirmation – and has even made strange bedfellows of the Riksdag’s influential Culture Committee, who call the move “an attempt to bring in a tiered system of regulation by the back door” and the gambling industry association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), who argue the new ruling is muddled and “ambiguous”.
“It further risks eroding the regulated market for those actors who have a loose license, pay Swedish tax and maintain a high level of consumer protection and who, with an adjusted requirement, do not have the opportunity to market their products to a wider extent,” said the culture committee in a statement.
“When re-regulating the gaming market, it was judged [by the committee] to be difficult to divide the forms of gaming into more, or less, risky games in a long-term sustainable way and let this alone be the guiding principle for the design of the regulation.
“There is no reason to make a different assessment now. Risk factors also change over time.”
Elections for the 346-member Swedish parliament, the Rikstad, were held on September 11 and led to the ruling centre-left coalition helmed by the Social Democratic Workers’ Party–Sweden’s traditional party of power–being replaced by a new conservative political alliance formed around the Moderate Party of Ulf Kristersson.
Following the result, BOS Secretary General Gustaf Hoffstedt said he was hopeful that the new government would be more “friendly” to his industry.
It would seem that, for the immediate future, the gambling genie has granted Hoffstedt his wish.