Sweden gambling regulator says no ‘temporary’ online licenses


sweden-temporary-online-gambling-licensesNot all of Sweden’s online gambling hopefuls will make it to the liberalized market’s January starting gun, according to the local gaming regulator.

This week, Sweden’s Lotteriinspektionen gaming regulatory agency warned that it had no plans to issue any “temporary” online gambling licenses for operators who don’t receive their new online permits before the liberalized market kicks off on January 1, 2019.

As of this week, the regulator has issued 31 online licenses out of the 70 applications that it had received since the licensing window opened on August 1. Lotteriinspektionen has said it is doing its best to process these applications ahead of the Jan. 1 launch, but warned last month that its staff were “under severe pressure” to make that timeline.

Lotteriinspektionen said it had received inquiries from some companies still waiting on their diplomas regarding the possibility of ‘temporary’ licensing that would allow them to launch with the other licensees on Jan. 1. But the regulator says Sweden’s new online gambling legislation contains no “grace period” and that operators “may not provide games in Sweden until you have been licensed.”

One of the recent recipients of a new Swedish license was SafeEnt Ltd, but the company’s Ninja Casino brand is being taken to court by Sweden’s Consumer Ombudsman (KO), which believes the site’s marketing contravenes new regulations requiring “moderation” in gambling advertising.

The ombudsman cited several phrases utilized in the Ninja Casino promos, including claims that customer can “profit off the bank” and “take home the millions” amid exhortations to “BET NOW!” The KO’s Gunnar Wikström noted that the court should consider the effect of these phrases on vulnerable segments of society.

The new regulations have yet to be tested in court and Wikström said the ombudsman was “keen” to explore the limits of the new rules.

Sweden’s government has long railed against local media outlets carrying ads promoting internationally licensed online gambling operators, but the new licensing regime will level the playing field for both domestic and international operators.

Sweden’s licensing regime was thrown a wobbler earlier this month when Svenska Fotbollförbundet, Swedish football’s governing body, filed a legal challenge of the new sports betting licenses. The group wants to ensure that operators can’t offer prop bets on non-match events like the number of yellow cards or corner kicks, as well as restricting wagering on the local sport’s lower-tier divisions.

Lotteriinspektionen has said little about the lawsuit, only that it would reserve comment until an interim ruling is issued by the Administrative Court in Linköping, which is expected before this year is through.