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Swedish online gambling trade body Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has urged the government to take another look at the ban on gambling credit card payments.

Gambling transactions via credit for betting and gambling are banned under the Gaming Act of 2018, but the Ministry of Finance called for a widening of the ban in June last year.

This would see licensed operators prevented from processing any credit-based funds such as personal loans, deferred payments, and overdrafts. BOS has called on the government to reconsider the ban’s technical arrangement.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary General of BOS, suggests that if the government proceeds with the proposal, the responsibility to prevent credit card payments for gambling should be imposed on credit card issuers rather than gambling operators.

His statement read: “If the government nevertheless goes ahead with the proposal, BOS proposes that the obligation not to mediate payments for gambling purposes be imposed on those issuing credit cards rather than on gambling operators.”

BOS contends that further restrictions on legal gambling operators will not only fail to protect consumers but will also push them towards unregulated platforms, which lack the stringent consumer protection measures mandated by the government’s ongoing review of Swedish gambling laws and standards.

In this way, it will be prohibited for credit card issuers, under the supervision of the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen), to mediate payments via credit cards for all gambling companies, including illegal and/or unlicensed gambling companies. 

Almost half of the Swedish online casino market is unlicensed and/or illegal due to heavy restrictions on the licensed market. Hoffstedt argues that adding new restrictions will place more burdens on people betting within the legal market, which will in turn be detrimental to consumer protection, potentially seeing them leave to the unregulated sector. 

By targeting credit card issuers, the government can better manage the risks associated with credit-based gambling while maintaining a healthy, regulated market that protects consumers.

The trade body concludes that regulatory stakeholders need to understand a deep concern for “maintaining a balanced regulatory environment that safeguards consumer interests” without inadvertently encouraging illegal gambling activities.

The comprehensive ban on credit transactions forms part of a package of measures proposed by the Ministry, which called for greater enforcement powers to be granted to Gambling Inspectorate Spelinspektionen, alongside new duty of care requirements on the prevention of excessive gambling.

The legislative process is underway to implement the ban, with a memorandum issued for comments by 23 May 2024, and  a vote in the Riksdag parliament expected in late 2024. Subject to parliamentary approval, 2024’s Gambling Act amendments are proposed to be effective from 1 April 2025.