Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Swedish Watchdog Warns 39 Media Outlets Against Advertising Unregulated Gambling Operations

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Swedish Watchdog Warns 39 Media Outlets Against Advertising Unregulated Gambling Operations

The Swedish gambling regulator, Lotteriinspektionen, has warned 39 online media outlets to stop promoting unlicensed gambling company as the activity is illegal under Sweden’s Lottery Act.

The move comes as the Scandinavian country is entering the final stages of the liberalization of its gambling market. Sweden’s new gambling law is set to take force on January 1, 2019 and will allow international operators to operate in a regulated environment. Lotteriinspektionen is set to open the application process for interested international companies on August 1, 2018.

In a statement from earlier this week, Lotteriinspektionen said that it has sent warnings to 39 digital media outlets as these have been featuring clickable banners that refer visitors to unregulated gambling websites. Swedish news outlet Breakit published the whole list of warned websites on Tuesday. Gota Media, Herenco, Skånska Dagbladet, and Skånemedia were few of those to get scolded by the Swedish gambling regulator.

Foreign gambling operators are annually spending billions to advertise on Swedish media. However, gambling-oriented advertising has been at the center of bitter controversy for some time as Lotteriinspektionen has been trying to reduce, although unsuccessfully, the amount of gambling advertising content from unregulated businesses featured across local media outlets.

Last December, the regulatory body warned the publisher of the Metro newspaper to remove all ads promoting unlicensed gambling operations from its pages. Lotteriinspektionen said back then that it had previously ordered the news outlet to cease and desist and that it was considering penalizing any future violations of the existing regulations.

Fines

Under Sweden’s current regulations, gambling ads that promote the services and products of operators that are not licensed by the local regulator is prohibited. A number of companies have tried to challenge that prohibition, but the Supreme Administrative Court ruled late last year that they are not allowed to advertise across Swedish media.

It is also important to note that operators could face fines if they continue promoting their products in Sweden. Marcus Aronsson, Manager Planning Coordination, Illegal Gambling at Lotteriinspektionen, told Breakit that fines would vary but they would usually be around SEK100,000 (approximately $11,476). While gambling companies are able to appeal any financial penalties imposed, regulators believe that they are not likely to succeed in that endeavor.

Sweden’s gambling market was worth SEK5.63 billion (approximately $646.2 million) in the first quarter of the year and recorded a 2.8% increase from the same period of 2017. Revenue from the country’s regulated gambling operations totaled SEK4.13 billion (approximately $474 million), down 1.1% year-on-year. On the other hand, Sweden’s unregulated market recorded another quarter of a double-digit growth, according to the revenue figures released by Lotteriinspektionen. Foreign gambling companies generated a total of SEK1.5 billion (approximately $172.2 million) during the three months ended March 31, up 15.3% from the same period a year ago.

The liberalization of Sweden’s gambling market is expected to become effective from January 1, 2019. International operators will be able to operate in the Scandinavian nation as long as they have obtained a license from Lotteriinspektionen and are running their operations in full compliance with the new regulations. Online gaming and betting services will be taxed at 18% on revenue under the new law.

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