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Trend in Europe

A number of European countries have recently introduced, or plan to introduce, new regulations for the ­gaming area. In most cases, the aim is to retake the ini­tiative in their own gaming market. In conjunction with this, blocking of IP addresses was implemented in several markets, various forms of advertising restrictions were applied and bans on making payments to gaming companies introduced in an effort to block unlicensed ope­rators. How to design market protection measures is also a central issue in the Swedish gaming debate, if the political goal of a healthy and safe gaming market is to be possible – not just with existing legislation but also ­following future re-regulation.

Following many years of correspondence with the Swedish Government, the European Commission decided on 16 October 2014 to refer the infringement cases against Sweden and file proceedings in the European Court of Justice. The infringement cases apply ­specifically to sports betting on the internet and online poker.

In July 2014, the European Commission presented new recommendations to encourage Member States to make further efforts to strengthen customer protection, counter gaming by minors and promote responsible ­marketing and sponsorship. According to the Commission, the aim is to more clearly implant the public health perspectives specific to online gaming and the financial consequences of gambling addiction and excessive gaming. However, a certain amount of criticism has been levelled at the recommendations, from countries including Belgium, that these recommendations constitute a backdoor for introducing a harmonization of the regulatory framework for gaming in the EU, something that most Member States have so far opposed.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions was completed in 2014. Sweden has not participated actively in drawing up the Convention but has submitted its views via the EU. A number of European countries have signed the Convention while a Swedish signature is expected at the earliest in spring 2015. Those countries that have signed have committed themselves to, inter alia, adapt their legislation, create a reporting system and to ensure that the countries’ sports organisations work to prevent match fixing.