New Swedish Online Gambling Regulator Warns Casinos About Unclear Bonus Terms

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New Swedish Online Gambling Regulator Warns Casinos About Unclear Bonus Terms ( Click to Enlarge )

The revamping of the Swedish online gambling industry, which came into effect on January 1, 2019, has led to some great changes in the industry in that particular country. Along these lines, the new regulatory body Spelinspektionen has sent out letters to each license holder reminding them, with fairly harsh language, that their bonus terms and conditions cannot be unclear in any way, shape or form.

Laying Down the Bonus Offer Law

Whenever something happens in terms of a regulatory body for online gambling in one country, a lot of players and some industry figures seem to think that it doesn’t really affect them if they aren’t located in or near that particular jurisdictions. However, that’s not quite the case, and a recent action by the new Swedish regulatory body Spelinspektionen is a good example of how that can work.

This body recently sent out letters to all of their operators warning them of something very specific as a sort of particularly stern reminder of some of the terms of their licensing:

Online casinos and other types of gambling sites licensed in Sweden are not allowed to offer bonuses that leave anything unclear at all, on any level, in the advertising, terms or conditions.

While there are some other issues that they have pointed out with these operators, the point is that they are being almost aggressive about how they’re going about it, and this has far-reaching implications.

The Overton Window Shifts

One of the reasons why Sweden’s revamped version of how they’re handling online gambling is so important is that it makes them more attractive to companies from other countries. That level of increased international competition is great for the industry, but it’s great for players in particular because it gives them more high-level options to choose from. More options means more competition, and in turn, that means better deals and promotions.

With more deals and promotions comes better rules and guidelines about how these sites should handle terms, conditions and advertising. The industry as a whole has a general idea of what it’s like for regulators to enforce their policies, and overall, it doesn’t really include much aggression unless specific sites have broken the rules consistently in specific ways.

Sweden’s Spelinspektionen regulatory body is throwing that idea out the window by coming out with a fair amount of aggression right off the bat less than two months after the new regulatory statutes went into effect. They’ve done this by sending letters to every single one of their licensees “reminding” them to not break the rules that they have put out on bonuses.

The effect of this is that the Overton window, or the range of ideas that are considered normal or accepted in a given context, has shifted. This is a trend-setting move, and it won’t be surprising to see other regulatory bodies start to take on a more aggressive (or assertive, depending on how you want to see it) approach with their operators.

Other Specific Issues

Another issue they’ve warned operators about has to do with when they are allowed to initiate the offering of a bonus via certain types of communication. Straight from the letter sent out to operators, we have the following:

It is also clear that a licensee can only offer bonuses the first time a player plays at the licensee’s game. If the license holder violates the rules, the authority can intervene with high penalties.

They went on to say that licenses can also be revoked for this type of thing, which is a pretty aggressive thing to bring up over a topic that many might see as a small issue. The whole point here is that they’re setting a line in the sand early on that they will not be flexible at all on their rules and that the law is the law.

Some people might think that this is a bit much, but it’s great news for players for two reasons. First, it shows that Sweden isn’t going to play around and let operators get by with anything shady, which is the kind of thing that makes a great regulatory body in the first place. Second, it helps to shift the Overton window about what is generally considered acceptable behavior from regulatory bodies all over the world.