Swedish Newspaper’s Games Violated the Gaming Act in the Country

Aftonbladet, one of the most popular daily newspapers published in Stockholm and the Nordic countries has been offering unlicensed betting through a series of manager contests, according to the Swedish Gambling Authority.

The Evening Paper Was Offering “Games in the Form of Betting”

According to the Aftonbladet publication whose name translates to “the evening paper” in English, they were offering readers “games in the form of betting” via manager competitions. These competitions worked very similarly to the way fantasy football competitions work. The contests would reward winners with a variety of prizes such as gift cards and iPhones.

The publication that was founded in 1830 by Lars Johan Hierta considered its manager competitions to be “clean skill games”. In their view, the games did not fall under the legal definition of “betting” according to the Nordic country’s official gambling regulations. 

However, customers were asked to complete a payment that featured a two-month subscription to the newspaper’s Aftonbladet Plus version. At the same time, Aftonbladet Plus subscribers that were already paying the subscription fee were allowed to enter the contests free of any additional charges.

The Swedish Gambling Regulator Deemed Aftonbladet’s Games Unlicensed Betting

The Act that entered into force in January 2019 clearly mentions that skill and social games “fall outside the scope” of the activities regulated by the Act itself. Accordingly, they do not require any form of licensing. While Aftonbladet labeled its competitions as games of skill, the regulator called them a form of betting for which the publication failed to have the necessary license.

At the end of a thorough assessment completed by the Swedish Gambling Authority, the regulator that lobbies for gambling with licensed operators concluded that the outcomes of the manager competitions were directly connected to the outcomes of soccer tournaments that were unfolding in real life. 

This means that they were, in fact, meeting the Gambling Act’s betting legal definition, since they required players to choose their preferred fictional sports teams made of optional players adjacent to real players, along with tournaments and real-world sports championships. 

The outcomes of the competitions organized by the newspaper depended entirely on the results of the corresponding sports events in real life. In other words, the regulator considered that players were investing in the outcomes of future events, which falls under the direct definition of betting under the Act.

The publication that has also had an online presence since 1994 has corrected its wrongdoing and claims to no longer be in violation of the Gaming Act. The regulator concluded no additional banning or interdictions would be necessary. In January, the Swedish Gambling Authority gave a warning to the Swedish Bingo Association for failing to meet a series of social responsibility regulations on its platform.

Aftonbladet continues to offer its main newspaper services for free. The website has been continuously rated as one of the top five most visited websites in the country according to a number of different surveys.

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