4H Materials

Sweden may change the regulation of gambling advertising

As a result of a journalistic investigation by Swedish media, it was discovered that 8 out of 10 popular influencers on the Twitch platform advertise online casinos that do not have a licence from the Swedish regulator Spelinkspektionen. In addition, the journalists underlined that 6 out of 10 popular influencers on Twitch also use direct links to online casinos that are illegal in Sweden.

Online gambling in Sweden became regulated under a licensing system in 2019. Licensed operators can offer online casinos, sports betting and horse racing. However, as in any country, in Sweden, there is an offshore gambling market. From this point of view, the Swedish gambling legislation defines online games that are not aimed at the Swedish market shall not be considered to be provided in Sweden, and therefore are not bound by the Gambling Act.

The Swedish regulator has defined criteria for this aimed online gambling to the Swedish market: 1) the interface of the website in Swedish; 2) the support in Swedish; 3) the ability to choose from a list of countries Sweden and from a list of currencies Swedish krona, etc. If the online casino, which was discussed in the journalistic investigation does not correspond to the general criteria, they may fall under the restrictions of the law on gambling in Sweden – because the marking of these websites is aimed at the Swedish audience (an additional criterion). Therefore, the advertising of online casinos by Influencers on Twitch could be the basis for restrictions by the Swedish regulator.

The Swedish regulator applied a similar logic when it banned three operators that did not have a licence in Sweden at the end of March 2024. The Internet Foundation's latest report "Swedes and the Internet" for 2023 shows that in Sweden 94% of users use social networks and platforms, with the most frequent users being those born after 2000[1]. The age limit on the Twitch platform is 13 years. The results of the journalistic investigation may have a strong impact on the regulation of responsible gambling, as the target audience of the popular influencers on Twitch is children who can find out about the online casino (which is not licensed in Sweden).

It should be noted that the regulator's next steps towards such operators will ban them from the Swedish market and/or prosecuted under Swedish law. The journalistic investigation suggests that such online casino websites should be blocked or prosecuted under Swedish law. In addition to the ban on operating under Swedish law, operators who promote participation in unlicensed gambling in Sweden can result in a fine or imprisonment for up to two years. The Swedish regulator has not made any statements regarding the liability of these online casino websites.

This is not the first time that the Twitch platform has attracted attention from the national regulator. In February 2024, the Twitch platform was blocked in Turkey – popular Influencers advertised online gambling operators, but this vertical is illegal in Turkey. If the Swedish regulator makes the same decision as the Turkish regulator, the Twitch platform may be blocked in Sweden.

From our point of view, advertising is one of the main ways to popularise the operators' brand. However, advertising cannot be unrestricted. In every country where gambling is legalised, there should be standards for such advertising so that every operator understands how to work in this market. As the result of a journalistic investigation in Sweden showed, unrestricted advertising of gambling can lead to the potential involvement of minors in such games. In addition, such operators receive additional income but do not pay taxes to the state. For a fair balance, it is necessary to have rules on the one hand on gambling advertising and the other hand on the implementation of responsible gambling.

[1] https://svenskarnaochinternet.se/app/uploads/2023/10/internetstiftelsen-svenskarna-och-internet-2023.pdf