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Swedish regulator urges greater clarity over proposed credit gambling ban



Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen has declared its support for a proposed comprehensive ban on gambling with credit but also called for greater clarity over new rules and regulations.

The country already has a ban on licensed operators offering or providing credit under the Gambling Act. However, under plans set out by the ministry of finance in February, the expanded ban would be more in-depth.

Proposals outline that neither state operators nor gambling agents would be able to process deposits or bets financed by credit. This is regardless of how and when credit is provided, including credit cards.

There is also a focus on a requirement for licensees having duty of care measures to help discourage excessive gambling. The ministry proposed that Spelinspektionen be authorised to set requirements for what these action plans should contain.

Sticking points for Spelinspektionen on potential ban

Publishing it official response, Spelinspektionen says it is largely supportive of the ban. This follows the regulator calling for a full ban on gambling by credit card in November last year.

However, Spelinspektionen did highlight several concerns it has with the current proposals and called on these to be addressed in order to offer greater clarity over the plans.

Firstly, it flags how the memorandum states certain parties, such as non-profit associations that sell bingo games or lotteries, do not accept payments by bank card. This means they are not impacted by the ban.

However, Spelinspektionen states public lotteries also sell tickets on digital sales channels. As such, it calls for measures to be put in place to ensure payment is not made by credit card or financed with a credit provided by a third party for such tickets.

“The memorandum lacks an analysis regarding the consequences that this situation may entail for the public benefit lotteries,” it said.

“Ambiguity” concerns for Swedish regulator 

The regulator also noted an issue over “ambiguity” in relation to the proposed rules. This, it says, largely relates to clarity as to how the term “credit” can be interpreted.

Current proposals refer to an extended credit ban on consumers using account credits to gamble. By definition, Spelinspektionen said, credit linked to a bank account is also account credit.

As such, the regulator says this may be interpreted as meaning licence holders and gambling agents have to ensure a credit space is not used for payments with debit cards. However, the proposals do not include investigative duties for licensees or agents. This, the regulator says, means the planned rules do not go far enough to ensure payees must check if a debit card has a credit limit with every purchase.

Furthermore, Spelinspektionen says proposals do not detail whether licensees and agents must introduce technical solutions or enter agreements with payment service providers to ensure payment does not take place through a credit facility linked to a debit card. 

“Spelinspektionen instead interprets the proposal as meaning licence holders and agents may not allow such a payment if it is possible for the payee to discover without special investigative measures that the payment is made with a credit,” it said. “That is, if the payee knows for some other reason that the gambling bet is financed with such credit.

“The scope of the proposed credit ban regarding debit cards could, for the reasons stated, be specified more clearly.”

Sweden set to follow the crowd with credit ban

Should Sweden press ahead with the planned ban, it would follow other major markets in doing so.

The UK announced a ban on using credit cards to gamble in 2020, with the ban introduced that April. The Gambling Commission determined the implementation of the ban had been smooth and did not lead to “unintended consequences”.

In September 2023, Australia’s government tabled the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023. The main focus of this was to ban the use of credit cards. 

Norway, one of Sweden’s Nordic cousins, has a similar credit gambling ban in place. In addition, further afield, Brazil has banned gambling with credit cards and cryptocurrency

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