Unlicensed Foreign Operators Now 64% Of Sweden's TV Gaming AdsApril 14, 2014 5:24 pm
Swedish gaming regulator Lotteriinspektionen has just published its 2013 TV gambling advertising figures, revealing a staggering 64% of all spending was carried out by non-Swedish unregulated operators. In other words, unlicensed websites spent SEK 1bn ($152m) last year encouraging gamblers to their sites, even though those foreign firms were not licensed to operate gaming websites in Sweden.
At present, Svenska Spel is the only operator licensed to offer online poker in Sweden. The state-owned company’s unique position is highlighted in its global ranking on PokerScout, which shows it in 15th place overall with an average of 600 cash game players over a seven day period. The company’s performance is even more impressive when one considers the heavy-handed regulations it is subjected to domestically, whilst also having to stave off offshore competition from such industry giants as PokerStars, 888 and PartyPoker.
However, Svenska Spel’s chairman has attacked Swedish media publishers for “taking the law into their own hands” by allowing unlicensed gambling operators to run adverts. In the past the monopoly poker provider has pushed the government to enforce advertising restrictions on unlicensed companies, but on 21 December 2012, the Swedish Supreme Court cleared two newspaper editors of violating the Swedish Lotteries Act of 1994, so that although it is still technically illegal to advertise unlicensed foreign lotteries inside the Scandinavian country, the ruling removed any penalties for violating the law.
Ironically, the Swedish Lotteries Act of 1994 only applies to state licensed media outlets, while media businesses licensed outside of Sweden by other EU countries are not bound by the act. Consequently, gambling advertising expenditure in Sweden by unlicensed gambling operators has shown a significant increase over the past few years and in 2013 had soared by 38% compared to the previous year.
Understandably, regulator Lotteriinspektionen, gambling operator Svenska Spel, and the Swedish government have all reacted angrily to the country’s inability to reduce this advertising by unlicensed sites. Previously the government fought to counter the situation in the courts, but instead had its case rejected on the grounds of existing EU treaties and the constitutional right to free speech.