Sweden: Ministry of Finance urges govt. to ban credit card transactions across all gambling segments

The Swedish Ministry of Finance has asked the government to ban all credit card transactions across all gambling segments. In a 650-page report titled “Enhanced consumer protections against risky lending and over-indebtedness,” the ministry explored the current consumer credit arrangements and protections in the market from 2021 onwards. 

Today, debts at the Swedish Enforcement Authority amount to 101 billion kronor ($9.2 billion), while debts at collection agencies amount to just over 102 billion kronor. These are historically high figures,” the report said, which primarily focuses on investigating rate caps, setup fees and penalty charges offered by credit loan services.

Sweden’s Gaming Act from 2018 does prohibit using credit for most gambling segments. However, the ministry found some licensed companies have managed to offer credit indirectly through third-party services, a loophole in the law.

Sweden’s Gaming Inspectorate had previously also called for the country’s gaming law to be amended. The watchdog said at the time that it works against the market principles for “licensees to contribute or encourage players to take loans to maintain their gambling spend.”

The new report notes that under the Gaming Act, a ban on credit transactions was not applied to lottery and soft game operators. These segments can allow customers to purchase products or services via a pre-debited invoice.

The Ministry also upheld the observations of the Swedish ‘Gaming Market Investigation,’ which identified the continued practice of licensees “offering gambling on credit in partnership with third-party credit services.”

The debate surrounding the use of credit when gambling has been an ongoing one for some time in Sweden. Svenska Spel and Swedish Gambling trade associations BOS and SPER have accepted a ban on all credit card wagering as market protection to halt consumer indebtedness.

The Swedish Ministry of Finance noted that any proposed changes to the consumer credit laws would need to be voted on to become legally binding and obligatory for those conducting gaming operations in the country.

Sweden has also taken a firmer stance against illegal gambling, with a new set of measures aimed at combating match-fixing being placed into effect at the start of this month. According to the new rules, all gambling licensees will be required to cooperate with police authorities in all ongoing investigations.