Sweden Launches ‘Larsson Inquiry’ into Black Market

Director general of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Gunnar Larsson has been appointed to investigate claims that Swedish regulation is failing to enforce against offshore operators.

The inquiry will answer concerns from the regulator, Spelinspektionen, that it does not have enough power to block payments to offshore operators.

The inquiry will also consider what more needs to be done to prevent match-fixing and organised crime, including accessing the efficacy of the regulator’s Match-Fixing Council.

Larsson’s appointment to lead the inquiry was announced this week by the architect of Sweden’s temporary pandemic-related gambling restrictions Social Affairs Minister Ardalan Shekarabi.

Shekarabi has faced criticism for imposing a mandatory weekly deposit cap of SEK5,000 (£434/€480/$582) and limiting bonuses to SEK100.

Players are also required to set time limits on online casino games and slots with licensed operators in Sweden.

The restrictions were introduced on 2 July with a view to strengthening player protection during the pandemic. While they were intended to be temporary, Shekarabi has called for them to be extended until June 2021.

The jurisdiction has been under fire from industry stakeholders who argue that many of the measures taken in the name of protecting players actually increase the likelihood of them being pushed to black market operators.

Trade body Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has repeatedly argued that the regulations imposed by government do not follow the evidence from player behaviour.

Welcoming news of the inquiry, BOS secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt said:

“The first two years of the re-regulated gambling market in Sweden has been marked by repressive measures from authorities and the government towards Swedish licensed operators, whereas unlicensed operators have been left untouched.”

Hoffstedt believes that over-time Swedish licensed operators have lost around 25% of traffic to their black market counterparts, a trend that is contrary to the government’s goal of at least 90% staying within the regulated market.