Swedish industry relieved to escape daytime ad ban

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The Swedish online gaming industry is “cautiously positive”, after the country’s government published a bill requiring licences for B2B suppliers, and opted not to restrict marketing to certain hours.

The government published its final version of a major gambling reform bill, which was first proposed in January.

The law includes a requirement for “adjusted moderation” in marketing.

Under this new standard, “the marketing of games should be adapted for to take special account of the fact that different forms of gambling entail different risks of addiction”.

The government clarified that the new “adjusted moderation” is not the same as “special moderation”, which is the standard imposed for marketing of alcohol and was proposed as a new standard for gambling law year. In Sweden, alcohol marketing “must not be intrusive, include outreach or urge people to use alcohol”.

The call for “adjusted moderation” is less severe than the previous proposal to ban ads for “high-risk” games between 6 am and 9 pm which had also been under consideration.

“The government determined that both channeling and media revenues could be adversely impacted by such a ban, while many at-risk people would continue to be exposed to ads,” the government said. 

The government determined that both channeling and media revenues could be adversely impacted by such a ban, while many at-risk people would continue to be exposed to ads.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), said the absence of an advertising ban between certain hours was the most important aspect of the bill.

“It is entirely in line with what the government announced it would include and we are cautiously positive of this bill,” Hoffstedt said. “The most striking thing is actually what is not included in the proposal, such as a ban on advertising for gambling on TV, radio and streaming media between 6 am and 9 pm.

“We are pleased that the government has listened to stakeholders in the gambling industry as well as several publishers who have pointed out the disadvantages of such a proposal.”

However, Hoffstedt added that while the “adjusted moderation” standard is an improvement when compared to a ban, it was still extremely ambiguous and would leave the industry uncertain of how it can or cannot market itself.

“The remaining concern is the proposal for ‘adjusted moderation’,” he said. “It seems to be a paraphrase of risk classification and the very ambiguity of what it actually means opens for legal uncertainty. 

“Here, the legislator should consider whether it really wants to introduce further uncertainty regarding the interpretation of regulatory measures, uncertainty that risks leading to protracted court proceedings.”

The bill also includes many of the same major topics as the initial proposal, including licences for business-to-business software providers. 

Under the rules, a gaming software licence would become mandatory for suppliers who offer their services to operators in Sweden. This, according to the government, would help to limit unlicensed gambling in the country.

Details of how these licences would work were outlined in a consultation that opened in March. Under the proposed rules, the application fee for supplier licences, which may last up to five years, would come to SEK120,000.

B2B licensees must be headquartered in the European Economic Area or set up an office in Sweden.

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