Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has submitted its proposed regulatory changes for football betting to the country’s National Board of Trade.
An impact assessment of the rules has been carried out, while the National Board of Trade is now tasked with submitting regulations to the European Commission for approval.
Football betting would, if the rules come into force, be limited to Sweden’s top four divisions. Swedish Cup matches would also need to involve teams from the same divisions in order to be bet on.
Meanwhile, wagering on matches below under-21 level would be prohibited altogether. The rules are intended to protect the game against match fixing.
Normally, it takes around three months for the European Commission to provide its opinion on such matters. According to Spelinspektionen themselves, the earliest that rules could be implemented is the end of 2020.
Although the regulator initially wanted to ban betting on friendlies and training matches, it has now decided that players will still be allowed to place money on international friendlies.
In the opinion of Spelinspektionen, lower league football is more susceptible to match fixing. As such, it was deemed important to limit the risks of this happening as much as possible.
The regulator had the following to say on the matter.
“Match fixing is considered as one of the biggest threats to sports today and as a result of this as well against betting and the companies that provide betting.
“There are, as far as can be judged, great risks in offering bets on games at low divisions in football.
“Monitoring from both sports federations and the media is lower and the athletes do not make money and are thus more vulnerable.
“There is also a risk of athletes or whole associations coming in contact with match fixing at lower levels and then taking the problem up through the pyramid with any sporting success.”
Assessing the risk
Gambling regulations in Sweden have come under scrutiny in recent months for being perceived by many as too strict. According to various reports, channelisation rates have dropped since the market re-regulated in January 2019.
Spelinspektionen acknowledged the possible damage that stricter football betting regulations than those proposed could cause. If measures such as further restrictions on live betting were imposed, the regulator said that many operators would just stop offering the products full stop. Moreover, many would leave the country’s market.
From a player perspective, Spelinspektionen also realised that getting stricter in some areas could lead to more players searching unregulated operators to deposit with. It said that “the unlicensed gaming market is never further away than a click on your computer or phone”.
Match fixing in Sweden
Last month, former AIK midfielder Dickson Etuhu was handed a five-year ban from Swedish football. He was found guilty of attempting to fix a top-flight match between the Solna-based side and IFK Göteborg in 2017.
The Nigerian midfielder had, according to the media, offered AIK goalkeeper Kyriakos Stamatopoulos 2 million Swedish Krona (c.£160,000) to underperform during the game. Stamatopoulos alerted the authorities of this approach and the game was postponed.
Ex-IFK Rössjöholm player Alban Jusufi, who was also present at attempted bribery in a Stockholm restaurant, received a ban too.