Upcoming Changes on Consumer Protection in Sweden: Insights from Maria McDonald, Partner at Nordic Gambling
Maria McDonald, Partner at Nordic Gambling, provides insights into forthcoming adjustments in consumer protection within the Swedish gambling landscape. The modifications are a reaction to growing concerns about the rise in issues related to gambling, especially among younger and more vulnerable players.
During the second part of 2023, a few proposals and amendments have been suggested in order to increase consumer protection in gambling in the Swedish market.
On 19 December 2023, the Swedish government submitted proposed updates to the Gambling Act to the parliament. The most important change is that license holders receive the explicit right to access and process personal data about finances and health related to their players in order to counteract excessive gambling. The lack of regulation in this regard is currently forcing gambling companies to make difficult assessments on how much and what kind of data they can process in order to protect their customers.
Mrs. McDonald underscores that even if change is welcome, the license holders should also count on higher expectations from the Gambling Authority in relation to the prevention of gambling problems and when teh Gambling Authority performs supervision on whether the duty of care has been satisfied.
In the same governmental proposal, a requirement of a written agreement when gambling is sold by telephone is introduced as well as an amended and increased sanction fee in cases of violations of the Money Laundring Act.
These changes are expected to enter into force on 1 April 2024.
In a report issued by the Swedish Gambling Authority to the Government on 31 October 2023, it is concluded that gambling amongst young and vulnerable players is increasing, especially in the ages 18-24 years. In order to counteract this development, the Gambling Authority suggests inter alia that marketing of gambling shall not be permitted to target people under the age of 25 (as opposed to the current limit of 18 years old). The Gambling Authority also opens up the question of increasing the legal age for gambling in general if gambling amongst young people continues to increase. Furthermore, the Gambling Authority suggests that any winnings over SEK 10,000 should be transferred directly to the player’s bank account instead of to the online gambling wallet. Finally, the Gambling Authority is closely evaluating the possibility of putting in place a central register for players’ deposit and time limitations.
The report from the Gambling Authority is the first step in making changes in the gambling regulations. Mrs. McDonald emphasizes that it is likely that we will see potential work from the government in this regard during 2024 and potential legislative proposals in 2025.
Finally, an investigation and report, commissioned by the Swedish Government suggested in July 2023 that the credit ban in the Gambling Act should be widened to also prohibit referrals to third parties who facilitate gambling on credit (e.g. payment is made via a mobile and the cost is only later added to the phone bill). However, the report explicitly stated that gambling with credit cards should not be prohibited.
These changes are suggested to enter into force on 1 January 2025.
The above suggestions and reports show that the Swedish Gambling Act is a moving target and that the consumer protection ambitions in the market are high. It remains to be seen if all or only some suggestions will come into force.