The treasury sees affiliates as an “obstacle” to safe gaming while channelisation to the regulated market lags behind target.
Sweden.- The Swedish Treasury has called for tougher controls on affiliates after its report on the regulated gaming market found channelisation lagging behind the country’s target.
The report looked at various aspects of gaming in Sweden following the introduction of regulation for online gambling in 2019. Looking at how much play takes place with licensed operators, it found that channelisation to legal offerings increased from 50 per cent in 2018 to 88 per cent in 2019, 85 per cent in 2020 and 87 per cent in 2021. However those figures all remain below the target figure of 90 per cent.
The treasury said that in itself was not a major concern and should not be a specific goal, but noted that it had proved difficult for the regulator Spelinspektionen to stop illegal gambling as it had limited power over offshore businesses, with orders to block payments and URLs having had no impact so far.
Regarding Spelinspektionen’s attempts to curtail illegal gambling it said: ‘None of these tools have so far had any significance in the work against Swedes playing at gaming companies that do not have a Swedish license.”
This is because it is required to demonstrate “special reasons” to block websites and must go through “cumbersome” court approvals to obtain payment blocks.
Affiliates deemed “obstacles” to safe gaming
Affiliates were singled out as potential “obstacles” to safe play. The treasury claimed it was “not always clear on comparison pages from affiliates that the content is advertising” which could lead players to believe they offered independent advice.
It said that although operators are responsible for their affiliates’ marketing activities, affiliates themselves can also be held liable and so should be subjected to more supervision. The Law Council has proposed making it illegal for affiliates to advertise unlicensed gambling sites.
The treasury report said: “To date, there has been no oversight to any great extent of the marketing of games through affiliates. Given that affiliates are an important channel for gaming companies marketing and that there are some ambiguities about the marketing that takes place via affiliates, the State Treasury believes that there may be reason to carry out more supervision of marketing that takes place through affiliates.”
The treasury also recommended that Spelinspektionen produce quarterly reports on the rate of channelisation, including details on channelisation by game type, and should work together with other European gaming regulators for a coordinated crackdown on unlicensed gambling.
The report recognised that the Swedish government has proposed new regulations for gaming, including the introduction of B2B software provider licences and a move to allow Spelinspektionen to block all unlicensed gambling sites irrespective of whether they actively target Swedish players.
Regarding player protection measures, the treasury suggested that Sweden’s restriction on bonuses, allowing them to be offered only on sign-up, could have the effect of driving players towards the unlicensed market or encouraging them to create more accounts.