Editors reported over gambling ads

Sweden's Gaming board has reported the editors of four Swedish newspapers and magazines to the police for publishing adverts from foreign gambling companies.

Those reported were the editors of newspapers Expressen and Metro as well as those of Slitz and Spray magazines.

“We expect more to follow, as many publications have accepted adverts recently,” said the Gaming Board’s spokeswoman My Hamrén.

A number of district court rulings have confirmed that it is illegal to publish adverts from gaming companies other than state monopoly Svenska Spel.

Among those already found in district court judgments to have broken the law are Expressen editor Otto Sjöberg and Nerikes Allehanda editor Krister Linnér.

Linnér asked the Supreme Court to hear his appeal against the ruling, but the court refused.

“This means that doubt is now eradicated – the law applies and we can act more forcefully,” said the Gaming Board’s chief legal officer Håkan Hallstedt.

The adverts break what is known as the promotion paragraph in the 1994 Lotteries Act. This paragraph makes it illegal to help foreign gaming companies find customers through adverts in the Swedish media. It is legal, however, for state-owned gambling companies Svenska Spel and ATG to advertise.

The World Cup has led to an unprecedented number of gambling adverts in Swedish media in recent weeks. Expressen’s sports supplement alone contained seven advertisements for for foreign gambling companies on Thursday.

Editors have justified taking the adverts by saying that the Swedish law is inconsistent with EU law.

“This shows their attitude of spinning this out as far as they can,” said Hallstedt.

The ads bring in big money for the media. The Gaming Board estimated that foreign gambling adverts bring in around 450 million kronor per year for the Swedish media. These include adverts on TV3 and Kanal 5, which are broadcast from the UK, making them exempt from Swedish legislation.

The gambling companies have good reason to want to attract players during the World Cup. Svenska Spel alone expects gambling to double during the tournament.

“During the European Championships people bet 160 million kronor with us. We expect this to rise to over 200 million during the World Cup,” said Svenska Spel’s communications director Claes Tellman.


Gambling addicts ‘not getting enough help’

Swedish health authorities have criticised the lack of help available in Sweden for gambling addiction, with many municipalities providing no resources at all to deal with the problem.

Despite recent figures suggesting that nearly 200,000 people in Sweden have some kind of gambling problem the institute has slammed local authorities for not spending enough money dealing with the problem.

At least 50 municipalities provide no treatment at all for compulsive gamblers according to Sweden’s National Institute for Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet).

“It is very serious for those who are addicted to gambling and for those who live with problem gamblers, Marie Risbäck, coordinator of problem gambling issues at the Institute, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Gambling problems are especially prevalent among young men, where it is estimated that one in ten between the ages of 18-24 have issues to some degree with over 17 billion kronor ($2.5 billion) wasted just on Svenska Spel, ATG and other ostensibly Swedish betting operations.

Three years ago a survey showed that some 40 municipalities provided no help to those with gambling problems, and the situation has just got worse since, with even fewer resources being made available.

The Public Health Institute believes that the government on a national and local level is not taking responsibility for doing anything about it.

It has therefore called for a state run action plan for the prevention of problem gambling, clearer rules on betting advertising, and an increase in care and treatment to all those in need.