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SWEDEN: Limitations on bonuses and the SGA’s official position on the definition thereof

In Sweden, license holders may only offer or leave a bonus at the first opportunity a player plays at any of the licensee’s games (See Chapter 14, Section 9 of the Swedish Gambling Act (Sw. Spellag (2018:1138))).

Pursuant to the legal definition of bonuses in Chapter 2, Section 3 of the Swedish Gambling Act, the term bonus refers to any discount or similar financial incentive comparable to a discount, which is directly linked to the game.

The vagueness of the legal definition and lack of clarification in the legal preparatory works, have divided the Swedish gambling community. Whereas some have taken the stance that everything additional to the winnings shall constitute a bonus, others have taken the stance that cash-backs and similar features, which does not affect stakes made or the potential winnings, shall not be considered a bonus.

Up until recently, the Swedish Gambling Authority has refused to give any guidance. However, most likely due to the political and social pressure on the SGA to show that they are able to control the gambling market, the Swedish Gambling Authority has now taken the official position that anything additional to the initial/actual winning shall be deemed a bonus.

While one can question the Swedish Gambling Authority’s position, licensed gambling operators will have to take a closer look on their games and services, and evaluate whether they include any features that should be treated as bonuses and only be offered at the first opportunity the player uses the operator’s services.

If you have any questions, please contact Christopher Büller at DLA Piper Sweden.