The Swedish Consumer Agency has concluded a review of 13 operators deeming their terms and conditions as harmful to consumers.
Sweden Takes Aim at Gambling Operators’ Websites T&C’s
The Swedish Consumer Agency (KO) has stepped up its efforts in overseeing the country’s gambling industry, concluding an expansive review of leading gaming and betting brands in Sweden. Legalized at the beginning of 2019, the Swedish gambling market became one Europe’s newest jurisdictions to offer legal iGaming and sports betting products to consumers.
However, regulatory oversight has been strict. In the latest move, KO has deemed the terms and conditions (T&C’s) of no fewer than 13 licensed operators as not too well-defined, the watchdog said, concluding a review of the gambling sector.
KO has cited the names of Svenska Spel, VideoSlots, ComeOn, Aspire Global and nine other operators, citing various failings in their terms and conditions.
According to the regulator, the brands have predicated withdrawals based on extensive documentation requested back from consumers and have in certain cases withheld payment, citing lack of compliance.
KO went to specify that several operators have introduced stiff limits on consumers’ ability to withdraw from their websites.
For example, three companies have limited the number of withdrawals whereas two have asked for players to verify their identities for any withdrawals over $2100 and $2400.
Unnecessary Documentation and Mutable Terms
According to KO, gambling firms have been intentionally delaying payouts to consumers by making it more difficult for requesting parties to claim winnings. The regulator noted that there was disparity between the documentation necessary to verify a deposit and withdrawal, favoring heavier and more onerous documentation in the case of the latter.
In specific cases, the agency discovered that operators have applied foreign law over domestic law, effectively ignoring Swedish regulations.
Another issue the regulator pointed out was the operators’ tendency to shift terms and conditions without a justifiable reason, referring to a common practice in T&C’s that states that the consumers are responsible for keeping up to date with such changes.
KO said that only two companies out of 13 had justifiable reasons for altering terms and conditions related to complying with governing gambling law. Consumers were never notified of any changes to the T&C’s, however.
The regulator concluded that operators had room for improvement. Changes must be effected so that consumers are better protected and they do not become the victim of ambiguous terms, the regulator explained. As per the review, KO will remain in charge of overseeing changes done to the T&C’s of all reviewed brands until such a time that the regulator is satisfied with the results.
KO has forwarded its findings to the Swedish Gambling Authority, Spelinspektionen and the leading online gambling trade group, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS). Sweden has been stepping up efforts in tackling unfair or dangerous practices.
The country has appointed a special investigator to help address grey and black market. Previously, the Swedish government put forward plans to extend online gambling restrictions through June 30, 2021 in order to ensure better consumer protection during the pandemic.
Regulation in Sweden has been one of the hardest, but it has worked exclusively to the benefit of consumers.