The Swedish Gambling Authority recently imposed strict measures that could severely limit the growth of esports betting in Sweden. The new regulation issues penalties to any gambling firm that features odds on sports where the majority of players are under age 18.
Restrictions in Sweden
For most traditional sports, this isn’t a problem. But as many of esports’ biggest stars are teenagers, the rule could threaten to wipe out esports betting in Sweden. Recently we saw the Fortnite World Cup won by a 16-year old, for one. Many other esports legends, such as Faker, started winning serious prize money at illegal gambling ages in many countries.
For background, the SGA introduced the new law at the start of 2019. To be clear, its aim was to prevent match-fixing from tainting young athletes. Esports has already suffered from match-fixing scandals in the past few years. For example, the legendary StarCraft II player Life was sentenced to 18 months in prison for match-fixing in 2016.
Now, traditional sports shouldn’t feel the effects of the new gambling legislation. Presumably, only under-19 and under-21 matches will forgo wagering. But in the youthful esports scene, many top-level matches soon will be absent from Sweden’s biggest betting sites.
More about the Swedish Gambling Authority
The Swedish Gambling Authority has already issued a number of penalties to operators. NordicBet drew the harshest rebuke: a 19 million Swedish kronor fine. Betfair, Bet365, Bwin, Betway, and Esportsbetting.com also took punishment.
The effects of this regulation could severely limit the willingness of bookmakers to invest in Sweden’s vibrant esports scene. Sweden is world-famous for hugely popular DreamHack esports festivals. Plus, a number of the country’s gaming teams have signed high-profile deals with betting sites. Notably, Ninjas in Pyjamas‘ Counter-Strike side enjoys a profitable deal with Betway. Who knows whether that can continue at this point.
Although efforts must be made to stop minors from being exposed to match-fixing and illegal gambling, there’s no question the Swedish Gambling Authority’s legislation could ultimately hamper the nation’s burgeoning scene.