SWEDEN ANNOUNCES REFORMS OF THE ONLINE GAMBLING SECTOR
Swedish government has disclosed details of the country’s long-expected online licensing regime which will, starting from 1 January 2019, allow the foreign operators apply for licenses and enter the online gambling market (online sports betting, online casino, online bingo) of the Scandinavian country for the first time. However, land-based casinos, lotteries and gambling machines are to remain under the state control.
As the country’s officials and the representatives of national gaming regulatory body have been pointing out lately, this reform is motivated by the need to improve the level of consumer safety and achieve more efficient control of the gambling market, given the foreign operators have already, in various forms of non-licensed presence, made their services available in Swedish gambling market to the big extent (according to several estimates, this rate has approached the figure of 25%). On the consumer-end of the analysis, this initiative is a step forwards to creating favourable conditions to operations on a competitive market terms.
What are the key changes envisaged by the proposed legislative amendments?
CONSUMER PROTECTION POLICY: Online licensees are to adhere to strict consumer protection in the sense they will be obligated to monitor gambling habits of customers and to approach them should they notice any early signals of problem gambling behaviour. National self-exclusion register will be introduced, the management of which will be managed by the gambling authority. It will be possible for the customers to self-exclude from all licence holders for at least 12 months.
ADVERTISING: Bonuses will only be allowed when a customer opens an account and gambling advertising is to be moderate and to realistically reflect the possibility of winnings to customers. It is proposed that licensed online operators are allowed to undisturbedly promote their products, as long as they’re strictly kept away from targeting minors. In case an operator signs a sponsorship deal with a sport team, it has to make sure no logos or brand names of operator appear on products targeted for minors.
RESTRICTIONS: Although not explicitly highlighted in provisions of this draft, national authorities are expected to be entitled the right to block the payment transactions originating from unlicensed operators. As regards the websites, although site-blocking has not been proposed by the draft, national internet service providers can be requested to display a warning message on gambling sites of the operators not licensed in Sweden.
TAXATION: Tax rates for online gambling are to be introduced and regulated by separate legislation. Current initiatives are expected to settle at the 18 percent rate of taxation on gross gaming revenue.
DURATION: The projected validity period of licenses is five years.
FINES: The operators failing to meet the license obligations can face the fines ranging up to 10 percent of annual turnover. Unauthorised operators offering gambling services to Swedish customers, even those promoting such services, are potentially subject to even higher fines and imprisonment.