Sweden starts ‘Larsson Inquiry’ on issues with black market
Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has officially announced that Gunnar Larsson, Director General of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, will be leading an inquiry in order to safeguard Sweden’s regulated online gambling marketplace against black-market threats. Larsson’s appointment was announced by Ardalan Shekarabi, the Swedish Social Affairs Minister and lead advocate of recent ‘temporary player restrictions and controls’ that have ruptured Sweden’s online gambling marketplace during 2020.
The Ministry of Finance verified that Larsson will be leading the inquiry to ‘identify obstacles impeding effective enforcement against offshore operators, and to propose solutions to improve controls’. The inquiry was launched after the Swedish gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen claimed that it lacked the regulatory capacity to urge payment blocks on black market actors aiming for Swedish consumers. The mandate will be looked over by Larsson’s inquiry. This inquiry will also be determining whether or not Sweden’s government and regulatory agencies are able to maintain a comprehensive approach and collaborative framework in order to eliminate threats imposed by the black market.
“We are very positive that the government has appointed an investigation to strengthen the work towards two important areas, unlicensed play and match-fixing,” said Camilla Rosenberg, director-general of Spelinspektionen. “The tools the authority has today to counter illegal gambling are not sufficient, which we previously reported to the government in the reports ‘Developments in the gambling market and measures taken due to the new coronavirus.”
It has been almost two-years since Sweden re-regulated its online gambling marketplace at the start of 2019. Currently, operators and regulators are opposed in their thoughts as to how the government should proceed with further market legislations.
Swedish iGaming trade association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) represents licensed operators, who have been arguing over time that a series of heavy-handed market restrictions have only led to the growth and expansion of the black market.
BOS secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt said: “The first two years of re-regulated gambling market in Sweden have been marked by repressive measures from authorities and the government towards Swedish licensed operators, whereas unlicensed operators have been left untouched,” he said. “A growing proportion of the Swedish punters have been abandoning the Swedish licensing market, with online casino as the most extreme example with a leakage out of the system of at least 25%. Considering the Government’s goal is that at least 90% of Sweden’s gambling shall stay within the licensing system by January 1 2022, that goal appears very distant.”
Larsson’s inquiry is launched simultaneously with the Swedish MPs’ review on a consultation proposed by Shekarabi, which could extend player controls until June 2021. The government also continues to impose a SEK 5,000 weekly deposit cap on online casino play.