Swedish licensed operators met with Spelinspektionen on September 17th and realized that there is a prevalence of unlicensed sites in the country. They voiced their concerns about the neglect of channelization in the country. Channelization – the practice where players are guided to favor licensed operators- has been an issue in Sweden for some time. Although there was an effort to promote it, licensed operators claim that it was not enough.
Also, they discussed anti-money laundering controls, responsible gambling, and rules regarding underage betting. Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), the Swedish trade association for online gambling stated that Spelinspektionen (Swedish Gambling Authority) is appearing stricter towards licensed operator than towards their unlicensed counterparts.
“It was a beneficial meeting. Not in the sense that the license holders received clarification in every compliance question they had, but the SGA really seemed to listen and hopefully will focus more on protecting the channelization further on. There have been more than 40 ongoing penalty cases towards license holders and none towards unlicensed operators that target Swedish customers. That is not sustainable in a healthy licensing regime. We as an industry and the authority have a joint interest here.”
In April, Spelinspektionen warned many operators that were suspected on allowing placing bets on sports events that include minors. In July, they fined eight operators who repeated that. Although BOS urged a meeting with the regulator, explaining that the regulation was unclear, the fines were issued nevertheless.
Robin Olenius, communication manager for Betsson, commented on the meeting:
“We welcome the initiative of running this conference. More information exchange and increased dialogue are very good for the operators as well as for the authorities. We are still at an early stage, only nine months into regulation, and this kind of meetings are very appreciated not only from us at Betsson Group, but also from other stakeholders within the industry. The event was well-attended, which confirms the thirst for information. It also shows that the industry really wants to cooperate, and is eager to learn more and in some cases, seek clarity. So I would say that the general reaction was positive. I think the industry still feels that there are some unanswered questions and areas that need further clarification. One of these areas is on how the SGA aims to maintain and even increase a stronger channelization, which is important to achieve desired customer protection.”
Anders Sims, head of communications for Spelinspektionen, decided to make a statement regarding channelization:
“Channelisation is a hot topic and the licensees want to know what we do to keep unlicensed companies out of the market. Our plan is to continue to meet with the licensees and have an ongoing dialogue, in order to create a common understanding and thereby reach a higher grade of compliance. To be able to reach high customer protection we need to understand the industry and the industry needs to understand what is expected from them.”