Sweden: Proposed amendments to the Swedish Lotteries Act

by DLA Piper

An inquiry commissioned by the Swedish government has proposed amendments to remove the differences between the prohibition and sanctions against  the promotion of unlicensed foreign lotteries and unlicensed national lotteries, and to issue orders and injunctions, under the penalty of fines, with immediate application.

Under the current Lotteries Act, there are stricter criminal sanctions for the promotion of foreign lotteries than of national lotteries. With reference thereto, the Swedish Supreme Court has declared that the criminal sanctions against the promotion of foreign lotteries are incompatible with EU law.

While the Swedish Gambling Authority may issue orders and injunctions, under the penalty of fines, against entities promoting unlicensed gambling, both the decision concerning a fine and the decision on the imposition of a fine can be appealed in three instances. Thus, by the time such decisions are legally binding, the prohibited action may have already ceased. In effect, the ineffective sanctions against the prohibition against the promotion of unlicensed gambling have led to widespread marketing in Sweden of unlicensed gambling operated from abroad.

In order to address these issues, an inquiry investigation was commissioned by the Swedish government in February 14, 2014, to remove the differences between the prohibition and sanctions available for the promotion of unlicensed foreign lotteries and unlicensed national lotteries. The inquiry investigation was also commissioned to consider an alternative system for orders and injunctions.

On March 30, 2015, the inquiry published its investigation and proposed amendments to the Swedish Lotteries Act. In the proposal, which is proposed to enter into effect January 1, 2016, the inquiry suggests that the criminal sanctions for the promotion of unlicensed gambling shall be identical, irrespective of whether or not the unlicensed gambling is organized in Sweden or abroad. Moreover, the investigator suggests that the Swedish Gambling Authority shall be able to issue orders and injunctions, under the penalty of a fine, which shall apply immediately.

If adopted, the proposed amendments will enable efficient sanctions against the promotion of unlicensed gambling in Sweden. Thus, assuming that Swedish prosecutors and the Swedish Gambling Authority will enforce the amended provisions, local marketing of unlicensed gambling on Swedish billboards, newspapers, TV-channels broadcasted from Sweden and websites will most likely decrease or cease.

The proposed amendments have been widely criticized. In fact, the Swedish Media Publishers’ Association has argued that it will lead to a complete stop on advertising in Swedish media. The Swedish Media Publishers’ Association also points out that the Swedish court has rejected the Swedish Gaming Authority’s orders and injunctions in the past, and that it is remarkable that the proposal includes an option for the Swedish Gaming Authority to issue orders and injunctions that apply immediately.

Please note that the proposed amendments are included in an inquiry investigation, and that the proposed amendments and time frames may change in the final bill, if adopted.

The inquiry is available in Swedish here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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