The Swedish Gambling Act (SGA) – Spelinspektionen Casinos

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The Swedish Gambling Act Details Introduction

Licensing is one of the major pillars holding the gambling industry in place. Thanks to the staggering £14 billion revenue the industry generates per year based on current estimation, one witnesses a whole host of casino operators boarding the ship at a steady pace. And just as important for these companies to target both the international and regional markets, country-specific licensing programs such as the Swedish Spelinspektionen garner paramount importance within the framework of the industry and its operations.

Background

Spelinspektionen, or the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate as it translates into English, takes up the task of providing the customers with a legally safe and reliable environment where they can continue their various gaming activities, be that lotteries or casinos or any other format, within the national jurisdiction of Sweden.

Headed by a government-appointed board, the Spelinspektionen sticks to the Gaming Act (2018:1138), the Act on the Organization of Certain Slot Machines (1982:636) and the Act (2017:630) on measures against money laundering and terror financing.

Sweden, like many other countries, has brought gambling for money under state vigilance in a sporadic fashion in the past. Spurred on by the need to safeguard players and the society as a whole and also to boost its income, the country nationalized the game of money in the late 30s and early 40s of the 20th century. The resultant of this move coupled with the gradual oversizing of the lottery and gaming market was the establishment of a special authority, Lotterinamnd, or The Lottery Board in 1974 which became the Spelinspektionen, the Lottery Inspectorate in 1995. Following a parliamentary decision, in 1999, Spelinspektionen started operating international casinos as well.

The next turnaround came in the form of an investigation conducted in 2008 (SOU 2008:12) vis-à-vis legislation concerning gaming and lotteries. As per the proposal of installing a robust licensing procedure that was endemic to that report, a new gaming law came into existence on 1st January 2019 as the Lotterinamnd expanded its reach and became the Spelinspektionen.

Collaborations

Bringing both terrestrial and remote operators under its auspices, Sweden’s licensing system shares a dynamic relationship with a handful of other national and international collaborators that are also ubiquitous to the gambling industry. At the national level, therefore, one finds Spelinspektionen enjoying a symbiosis with The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket), Matchfixningsrad, the Match Fixing Advice front, and Spelmarknadsrad, the Gambling Market Council. Internationally, Malta Gambling Commission, Gibraltar Gambling Division, UK Gambling Commission, The Netherlands Gambling Authority, the Gambling Regulators European Forum, and the International Association of Gaming Regulators find themselves on the collaborators list.

The Technicalities of Acquiring Licenses

Listing 94 companies that possess an active license according to the Gaming Act (2018:1138), Spelinspektionen also makes public the names of more than 20 companies that it has banned from functioning as per Section 23 of the said act.

An interesting online casino can apply for the license via the regular postal service as well as via email. Upon receiving a registration number following the application, casinos are to pay the application fee. The application will be processed on the condition that the fee is paid first. Spelinspektionen has ensured that the entire procedure side steps all manners of the unnecessary clutter that can potentially confuse applicants. One, therefore, visits its official site and downloads the application form in PDF format or alternatively uses the web service to apply in real-time. Two things stand out in this process which applicants must keep in mind, first, to keep ready the relevant identity, financial and policy documents before starting the process and second, to if applied through the web service, the filled up form with the signature of the authorized signatory has to be printed out, scanned in, signed and attached to the application.

Last but not least, all documentation that goes with the application must be in Swedish.

Application Fee

Apart from receiving a registration fee to kick-start the processing of the application, Spelinspektionen also charges a fee for supervision after issuing a license. For a paltry fee of SEK 800, roughly a hundred US dollars, per agent, the application can be made. This is bound to be convenient when one compares to the relatively higher charges as demanded by many regulators in the US jurisdictions, for example. The supervision fee which the new licensee incurs, on the other hand, is subject to calculations after assessing the various mores of the supervisory activities. In any case, the fee is also charged in accordance with the Gaming Act (2018:1138).

Validity of License

Once the license is issued, it retains its validity for an infinite period. Contrarily, if the casino declares insolvency, the license gets revoked. Further, the casino can also see its license revoked or suspended if Spelinspektionen outright bans that casino. A casino can also willingly relinquish its license in case it decides to exit the Swedish market.

Licensed Software under Spelinspektionen’s Purview

There are mainly six types of licenses that the Swedish licensing programme grants. On top of that, holding permits for slot machines and permits for slot machines are also issued according to the Slot Machines Act. The main six types of licenses include State Game, Games for Public Benefit Purposes, Commercial Online Gaming, Betting, Land-based Commercial Game, and Games on Ships in International Traffic. This fairly big legal purview also includes activities such as:

  • Betting
  • Casino
  • Arcade
  • Lotteries
  • Bingo
  • Gaming Machines
  • Gambling Software

Casinos are therefore encouraged to acquire gambling software from suppliers that are issued the Swedish license in order to legally safeguard their businesses. Made mandatory, such a move offers its own bouquet of benefits owing to the simple reason that the Spelinspektionen license guarantees 100% tested software which carries no trace of discrepancy in them. Remote operators who don’t possess the said license are therefore justifiably barred from conducting remote gambling as they don’t conform to the established technical standards in the Swedish jurisdiction.

Anti-Money Laundering and Terror Financing Policies

On the matter of curbing the vile practice of money laundering, Spelinspektionen practices astute policies in a no-holds-barred fashion. Following the anti-money laundering provisions that are part and parcel of the Gaming Act (2018:1138) of which Spelinspektionen is the manifestation, the authority here unfailingly updates the regulations related to money laundering at regular intervals after poring over the nature of risks imperiling the market so it can function in a preemptive manner. A full-fledged registration process for gaming agents that it has installed must also be seen in this light.

Ever committed to securing and maintaining the safe gambling and gaming environment that the European Union as a whole boasts of, the Swedish market painstakingly carries out regular procedures to review the money risk assessment and amend its own moves accordingly. These moves generally centre around:

  • Staying true to the policies and controls enshrined in the Gambling Act (2008:1138).
  • Mobilizing the right measures while studying new products and practices in order to weed out any remote chances of money laundering risks.
  • Constantly churning out awareness material to make agents and operators take stock of terror financing and money laundering that their businesses fall prey to so that they at their end keep their eyes peeled. One can therefore find information on goAML, the totally integrated software solution designed to be used by Financial Intelligence Units, alongside the link to access it where one can report suspected money laundering practices.

Benefits of the Spelinspektionen License

From the customer’s end, playing in a casino that has been granted a Spelinspektionen license comes with a whole host of benefits. These are:

·       Advanced Player Protection

The casinos that operate under the auspices of Spelinspektionen stringently hinge on advanced technology to protect all sorts of user data including their financial details. Using 128-bit SSL encryption technology which is pretty much the standard these days, these casinos successfully deflect cyber attacks of all manners. Additionally, the license also compels them to hold onto user data for a relatively short period of time and make use of them non-maliciously.

·       Random and Fair Games

The robust licensing framework also ensures that games offered remain random and fair. The resultant is the practice of third-party testing where independent laboratories such as iTech Labs, eCOGRA are welcomed on board. The RNG (Random Number Generator) principle has also been made prevalent as part of this move.

·       Accountable Operator

Applicants under the Spelinspektionen program are issued licenses only after the incumbent authority runs thorough supervision and is satisfied with the result. This ensures that operators don’t tiptoe around the legalities and follow them instead by letter. Additionally, the license also mandates online operators that they make visible the Gaming Responsibility logos at all times.

·       Plenty of Online Casinos to Enjoy

In a relatively short period of time, 1st January 2019 when Lotterinamnd took on its new avatar Spelinspektionen, there were 94 reputed gaming companies that came under its jurisdiction which is marvelous. Users, therefore, get plenty of online casinos to choose from each of which also comes with hordes of lucrative game titles.

·       Responsible Gaming

The Swedish Gaming Inspectorate is genuine in recognizing the social implications of gambling and taking steps toward minimizing such risks, real or perceived. Hence it puts in place a thick safety net for gamers, terrestrial or international, to prevent and cure gambling addictions that more often than not bring ruin to individual lives and tear apart the social fabric too. One can easily locate on its site an entry on Spelpaus.se which is its self-exclusion register. This is where one can banish oneself from gaming for a defined period of time or indefinitely. The suspension is confirmed by e-identification and is interminable in nature. The suspension applies to all online games, Cosmopol casino, Vegas machines and other products in-store or on the track.

The Drawback of the Spelinspektionen License

·       Fees and Strict Rules

In spite of setting a rather low licensing charge, Spelinspektionen has a differentiated fee structure and therefore includes some very higher amounts. Casinos that palate a multi-product portfolio are charged separately for each type of product. Also, the supervision fee is non-definite. Issues such as these, when rest side by side with the strict regulations that the licensing authority pays heed to with added strictness, can puncture businesses pretty easily. Especially woeful can be the state of small and yet legitimate entities. Observers hence noted a market imbalance which, if it’s not already here, is just around the corner with only well-established inflated brands reaping the benefits of it all.

In Conclusion

When it comes to games of chance and gambling, all the involved parties must start by recognizing the fact that the field here is volatile. Derivative of many factors, all of which vie for our attention, the most glaring factor nonetheless remains, as it always has remained, is money. In this industry, a staggering amount of money changes hands so swiftly that it becomes indeed very tough for prying eyes to keep track of it. The flip side of such covering up is the impunity with which the same wrongdoers unearth vast amounts of user data that were meant to remain covered and exploit them to further their own ends. With the invention of modern technology, the ease of gleaning information has increased just as much as the ease with which one can hide information.

In such a context, robust licensing frameworks are the only thing that can play the role of gatekeeper with any verve. Stamping out malpractices of all kinds, known and perceived, The Swedish Gaming Inspectorate ensures the propagation of transparent and healthy gambling habits among players. Having created a special place for problem gamblers, the platform has also underlined the social underpinnings of gambling habits and the necessity of reigning in on them for the benefit of both society and the individual.

Online casinos that come with the Spelinspektionen license, therefore, offer a very safe and secure environment for players and operators alike. This is because here users know for sure that their data is immune to misappropriation. Moreover, the games these casinos offer are randomized and fair. With almost a hundred casinos now under its wing and the prospect of many more joining in pretty much alive, users here can gleefully enjoy the opportunity of choosing from truckloads of casinos and games.