Sweden: The Swedish Gambling Authority takes action against links to foreign based online gambling operators

By Björn Collste and Christopher Büller, Advokatfirma DLA Nordic

The Swedish Gambling Authority has issued injunctions under the penalty of a fine of SEK 45,000 per day against the Swedish newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen, claiming that the newspapers’ links to foreign based gambling sites constitutes unlawful promotion of foreign lotteries.

The Swedish prohibition to promote lotteries without a licence is sanctioned in two ways, namely (i) the Swedish Gambling Authority has the option to issue an injunction under the penalty of a fine and (ii) the Public Prosecutor can prosecute individuals for a criminal offence. The criminal sanctions only apply in relation to promotion of foreign based operators and have previously been deemed discriminatory and incompatible with EU law by the Swedish Supreme Court. Furthermore, due to constitutional protection awarded media companies, the Director General of the Swedish Gambling Authority has stated that injunctions against media companies are inadequate.

In light of the aforementioned and with reference to the ongoing review of the Swedish gambling legislation, it was generally assumed that the Swedish Gambling Authority would passively await the new legislation and refrain from further actions against local media companies advertising on behalf of offshore operators. Obviously this assumption was incorrect.

Whether or not the penalty of SEK 45,000 will be sufficient to prevent advertisement and links and what actions the newspapers will finally take remains to be seen. However, we expect yet another lengthy court proceeding before this matter is finally resolved.

For more information, please contact bjorn.collste@dlanordic.se or christopher.buller@dlanordic.se