BOS’ Code of Conduct

 

Introduction

Gambling is a form of entertainment and a pastime pleasure for many people. Gambling can also – if mismanaged – have negative consequences. This standard aims to ensure that gambling that is entertaining is provided responsibly from a consumer protection perspective. It is vital that companies and organizations that commit to following the Standard minimize the negative consequences of gambling. In the following, the word “gambling company” is used for companies and organizations that organize gambling activities for the public.

The Standard can also be updated relatively quickly to adapt to a continually changing market. The Standard aims to integrate responsible gambling into gambling companies’ daily operations and the development of these. The Standard shall serve as a basis for gambling companies’ own programs for responsible gambling, as a natural part of the operations – from product development to distribution and marketing.

The state, government agencies, and municipalities have a responsibility to minimize the risks of problem gambling in society. We in the gambling industry have both a responsibility and an opportunity to influence behaviour, through product design, marketing, and preventive measures.

Each individual also has a clear responsibility for his or her gambling behaviour.

This standard regulates gambling companies’ responsibility for:

  • The design of products that are offered to consumers;
  • The manner in which they offer consumers to gamble using their products; and
  • The design of the gambling environment.

Gambling companies that are members of BOS thus also submit to a compliance obligation. The Standard identifies some areas where gambling companies that agree to comply with the Standard are responsible for ensuring that the rules concerning marketing and responsible gambling from a consumer perspective are fully respected. 

Marketing is a vital part of a functioning gambling market and to share valuable information with consumers about their different offers. That the marketing is conducted responsibly is, in turn, a prerequisite for the preservation of both consumers’ and other stakeholders’ confidence in the gambling industry in general.

This standard constitutes a complement to the current legislation concerning responsible gambling and marketing, e.g., The Marketing Act – including good marketing practice, other laws that concern gambling and lotteries, related government regulations, as well as terms and conditions for the respective gambling company’s business permission/license.

The Standard aims to maintain and strengthen the confidence of both consumers and other stakeholders in the industry. Gambling companies that have agreed to follow the Standard provide their consumers with a better opportunity to make sound and informed decisions about their gambling. 

By adopting the Standard, the individual gambling company commits to making responsible gambling an integrated and integral part of daily operations. The Standard allows for differences between gambling companies. It represents a minimum level, which means that it complements and enhances – but not substitutes – those measures that individual gambling companies already have in place under current licenses and legislation. Individual gambling companies can thus continue to implement more ambitious policies for selected issues to improve their competitiveness (“competitive edge”).

 

1. Prohibition unlicensed gambling

In support of the intentions of the Swedish Gaming Act, operators which are members of BOS undertake to only accept customers who are residents in Sweden on their licensed site(s), and as a consequence not accept customers resident in Sweden on any potential non-Swedish licensed site within their group.

In support of the intentions of the Swedish Gaming Act, suppliers which are members of BOS undertake not to provide games to operators which without a Swedish license accept customers who are residents in Sweden.

 

2. Marketing shall be truthful and not misleading

Marketing shall not be designed in such a way that it damages consumer confidence in gambling as a form of entertainment is damaged. Claims made in marketing shall be factually accurate. The marketing shall not be designed in a way that misleads consumers.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that marketing is never designed to claim or otherwise indicates that gambling is without risk or that there are products that cannot lead to gambling problems;
  2. that the marketing does not contain false information regarding the size of winnings;
  3. that marketing does not exaggerate the chance of winning;
  4. that marketing does not imply or assert that the outcome of a draw in a game of chance is or may be affected by any factor other than chance;
  5. that marketing is not designed in a way that it claims, or otherwise indicates, that playing is free if it is not;
  6. that the design of marketing takes into account known insights about gambling responsibility and gambling addiction;
  7. that all potential conditions for consumer participation in a marketing activity, or for taking part of an offer (including supplementary benefits), are made available to the consumer in a manner appropriate to the channel, thereby enabling consumers to make an informed decision about their gambling; and
  8. that every type of game contains information about the winning density (winning plan) and about the share of the wagers that are paid out to players in the form of winnings.

 

3. Marketing shall not encourage excessive consumer gambling

The gambling company shall not encourage excessive gambling when marketing to consumers. The gambling company shall take into account this protective interest and assume a responsible approach when designing and implementing marketing activities. When offering bonuses, all conditions shall be clear from the bonus offer.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that marketing does not urge or encourage consumers to chase earlier losses;
  2. that marketing does not contain claims that gambling can provide a solution to financial problems, an alternative to employment, or a way to achieve financial support or security;
  3. that marketing does not portray gambling as necessary, or as a priority in life, e.g., ahead of family, friends, education, or professional commitments;
  4. that marketing does not convey or portray restrained gambling negatively;
  5. that marketing does not convey or portray gambling as a path to social success, e.g., by famous people saying that gambling has contributed to their success;
  6. that marketing does not promote or encourage criminal or antisocial behaviour;
  7. that marketing does not encourage gambling behaviour that involves the consumer
    1. lying about their gambling;
    2. taking loans for the purpose of gambling;
    3. thinking more about gambling than the consumer wants; or
    4. spending more time and money on gambling than the consumer wants
  1. that the gambling company clearly informs of all the conditions for a bonus;
  2. that this information is provided in direct connection to the offer in a manner appropriate to the distribution and marketing channel;
  3. that a bonus to an individual player is not dependent on other conditions than those offered to other players playing the same type of game.
  4. that payment of a bonus is made as soon as practically possible after the conditions have been met; and
  5. that the payment process shall be stated in the terms and conditions.

 

4. Marketing shall not be directed at known problem-gambling risk groups

Marketing shall not be directed at consumer groups that, according to accepted knowledge, are considered at increased risk of developing problem gambling.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that gambling marketing does not contain claims that the player’s attractiveness increases;
  2. that marketing does not contain claims that gambling can provide a solution to social, personal or professional problems;
  3. that marketing does not contain claims that gambling entails – or can reinforce – positive personal qualities, e.g. that gambling can improve the consumer’s self-esteem or self-respect, or result in recognition or admiration;
  4. that marketing does not claim that the likelihood of winning is affected by factors such as superstition;
  5. that marketing does not allude to normative notions of masculinity and femininity;
  6. that marketing does not claim that gambling affects the player’s physical strength and responsibility;
  7. that marketing does not encourage gambling that the consumer cannot do without; and
  8. that marketing does not occur in combination with alcohol.

 

5. Marketing shall not be directed at minors

Marketing of gambling shall not be directed at, or designed to specifically appeal to, people under the age of 18. This provision covers not only messaging but also the choice of mannerisms, language, and concepts, fonts, and choice of channels or media outlet. It also involves a ban on referring to, reproducing or associating with youth culture. Gambling companies shall implement all reasonable measures necessary to prevent minors from accessing gambling products.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that measures to facilitate a high quality and effective age verification are implemented, as close to real-time as possible and as comprehensive as possible;
  2. that all employees involved in the age verification process receive necessary training, including training in the process for if further verification is needed;
  3. that information about age limit is clearly stated in the distribution channel where the sale takes place;
  4. that marketing is not designed to exploit the inexperience or ignorance of minors;
  5. that marketing does not allude or allege that gambling marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood;
  6. that no marketing takes place in schools or on school grounds;
  7. that individual or groups of minors are not allowed to have a central role in marketing of gambling, other than in contexts that describe causes that members contribute to and when gambling products are not directly marketed.
  8. that special caution is observed in cases where minors, without having a central role, still appear in marketing of gambling (e.g., as a peripheral element) so that marketing cannot directly or indirectly be considered directed to, or specifically appeal to, minors.
  9. that marketing is not allowed at child or youth cups, or at other sports events exclusively directed at children and young people; and
  10. that promotion of products, or their logos, are not depicted on team shirts, uniforms or equivalent commercial merchandise products intended for use by minors.

 

6. Sponsorships shall be transparent

As part of the requirement for moderate marketing, children or youths under the age of 18 years shall not be directly targeted by marketing activities. Sponsorship agreements between Gambling companies and associations with members under the age of 18 should only be entered into with great caution.

Sponsoring shall be done in a spirit of responsible gambling. Albeit marketing aimed at minors is permitted,  gambling companies are allowed to sponsor, with moderation, activities or events that promote the participation of young people in sports and their potential for development through sports. In exchange for such sponsorship, the gambling company often receives the right to display the company logo or equivalent. Such displays are permitted in situations specified by this standard, provided that the law allows it.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the gambling company prepares a regulatory framework for sponsorships, which means that all sponsorships are documented and followed up;
  2. that the gambling company’s sponsorships are transparent and that the gambling company is a clearly identifiable sponsor;
  3. that sponsorships do not affect minors negatively;
  4. that sponsoring is not allowed for events that are organized for or primarily directed at minors; and
  5. that the sponsor’s marketing materials are not used in marketing materials designed for or primarily directed at minors.

 

7. Information on problem gambling and where to seek help shall be easily accessible

Information on gambling-related problems, including health risks resulting from problem gambling and references to where gambling consumers or family members can turn for help, shall be readily available in all environments where gambling is offered. 

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the gambling company provides information on relevant platforms about the national support line for problem gamblers and their families (Stödlinjen) ;
  2. that the gambling company provides clearly visible information about Stödlinjen and other options for support and help in digital channels, in a manner appropriate for the distribution channel;
  3. that the gambling company provides – or link to – fact-based information about problem gambling and associated health effects, and that this is provided in a manner appropriate for the game’s distribution channel; and
  4. that the gambling company helps in disseminating information about the risks of developing a gambling problem.

 

8. Marketing shall not be designed so that it is perceived as intrusive

Consumer integrity shall be respected and safeguarded. Marketing shall, therefore, be designed in a way that it is not perceived to be intrusive by the consumer. For example, marketing measures aimed at a consumer even if he/she has rejected it, e.g., by having cancelled or otherwise declined advertisement, direct mail or telemarketing. The manner in which the consumer has indicated opposition to marketing shall not affect the assessment. A direct message to the sender of the marketing, registration in a NIX register or a ” No advertisement please” sign on the door or mailbox shall be deemed equivalent and respected fully.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the sender is clearly identified in all marketing and that every consumer is offered the opportunity to opt out of advertisement distributions;
  2. that marketing via email, or similar, is not distributed to a consumer without his/her prior consent. However, this shall not apply if the consumer is a customer of the gambling company and if the advertisement concerns the gambling company’s similar products or services and if the consumer has not objected to such marketing;
  3. that mail, e-mail, text messaging and telemarketing include a clearly visible opt-out function;
  4. that no marketing activities are directed to consumers who have chosen to opt-out of gambling via a self-exclusion service;
  5. that the gambling company’s website contains information about where to direct potential complaints or questions about marketing offers (customer service or similar); and
  6. that good marketing practice is observed, which involves adherence to accepted guidelines for direct advertisement (e.g., SWEDMA’s ethical rules for direct mail) and the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) marketing rules, among other things.

 

9. Affiliate marketing

BOS member companies often purchase advertisement via media agencies and affiliates. Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing that is common in the online industry. The idea is to employ the help of webmasters to disseminate services or products and pay for performance. It is based solely on driving traffic and revenue to the gambling company, and the outcome varies.

It is essential that BOS member companies’ logos and advertisements do not appear on websites that are illegal or otherwise contribute to an image that we do not want to be associated with, e.g., websites that stream movies in violation of copyright laws. BOS member companies and logotypes are attractive to these websites since they can contribute to a false sense of legitimacy for their illegal activities.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the agreement between the BOS member company and the advertisement seller states that no advertisement can be in violation of applicable law or otherwise, can be said to be in breach of good practice;
  2. that special caution is taken for so-called bulk sales. Specific assurances shall then be required to ensure that the requirement above is met.
  3. that if any advertisement is discovered on websites that are illegal or inappropriate for other reasons, the responsible site administrator is notified with a demand for its removal. If there is no site administrator, the service provider shall be contacted and informed that it constitutes trademark infringement.

 

10. Accepted Payment Methods

This section regulates what payment methods BOS member organizations are permitted to accept. The regulation concerns B2C-business, i.e., business to consumer, aimed at consumers in Sweden. Online gambling is a transfer-intensive activity. It sets special requirements regarding measures against money laundering and fraud, as well as consumer protection.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that cash payments are banned. The Standard no tolerance for the use of cash, as the control and traceability that is integral to knowing the customer is very difficult to uphold with cash payments. Control is important from a consumer protection perspective (e.g., age control) and a crime prevention perspective (e.g., money laundering).
  2. that customary means of payment are permitted. Except for cash payments, it includes bank, credit and debit cards issued by a third party.
  3. that the following is considered for other payment methods. In addition to cash and different types of debit cards, many payment methods available, ranging from invoices in the mail to various online solutions from third parties. BOS has a fundamentally positive view of new payment solutions that are developed and offered to consumers – not least online. We are ourselves a part of the online industry. However, we recognize the problem of the credits sometime being offered to consumers. BOS does not allow gambling on credit with the exception of customary payment methods (see above). Payments methods that are immediately charged to the consumer’s account are permitted, whether they are customary credit card payments or of another type.

 

11. Safe and secure gambling

Games shall be designed to meet customers’ needs for safe and secure gambling by promoting an informed and rational gambling behaviour on the part of the consumer. It involves offering games that customers demand responsibly and protecting vulnerable consumers through various responsible gambling measures based on game type and distribution.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that all gambling companies appoint a special senior officer with responsibility for responsible gambling;
  2. that decisions by the courts, regulating government authorities, and the Advertising Ombudsman are followed;
  3. that online and telephone-based responsible gambling counselling is offered.
  4. that a self-assessment tool is offered online;
  5. that the opportunity to set a gambling budget is offered, including a deposit limit.
  6. that the opportunity for a cool-down period and self-exclusion is offered;
  7. that only gambling account deposits from a payment service provider in accordance with the Payment Services Act are accepted;
  8. that unauthorized or unnecessary disclosure of customer information in prohibited;
  9. that customer credit card numbers stored in the system cannot be used by an unauthorized person;
  10. that transfers to and from customers are conducted in accordance with a formal documented process;
  11. that fast and correct processing of payments are assured in accordance with appropriate and necessary checks and verifications;
  12. that all financial transactions to and from the gambling account are recorded;
  13. that gambling companies give the player access to information about his/her gambling account balance and gambling history, including wagers, wins, losses, deposits and payments, as well as other transactions. Such information shall be available on the gambling account for at least 90 days;
  14. That the gambling company, at the customer’s request, issues a gambling account statement, which shows all account transactions during the last 12 months;
  15. that various responsible gambling tools are offered, which are individually tailored to customer need, provided that such personal data processing is permitted under relevant legislation;
  16. that contact information for complaints and dispute resolution is readily available on the gambling company’s website;
  17. that consumers are able to register or otherwise file complaints;
  18. that complaints and disputes are managed in the same language as the content of the website; and
  19. that customer complaints are managed in accordance with a structured and documented process

 

12. No tolerance for suspected criminality

Zero tolerance applies in instances of suspected fraud or other criminal behaviour and any transactions suspected of being linked to money laundering or other criminal activity. Measures shall be taken on suspicion of, for example, forgery, gambling addiction or match fixing.

This shall be done by ensuring:

There is no tolerance for suspected fraud or other criminal behaviour and any transactions suspected of being linked to money laundering or other criminal activity. Measures shall be taken on suspicion of, for example, forgery, gambling addiction or match-fixing.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the gambling company implements a policy against money laundering and terrorism financing;
  2. that prevention of criminal acts is part of daily operations, and that actions are made to prevent money laundering;
  3. that all suspicious transactions are reported to the competent national authority;
  4. that all employees are aware of their personal responsibilities when it comes to detecting and reporting criminal and suspicious behaviour.
  5. that all employees are aware of the dangers of forewarning people or tipping them off, and what procedures to follow to prevent this;
  6. that all deposits, withdrawals or online adjustment transactions are subject to strict security checks and are registered in a system audit log;
  7. that gambling companies ensure that all products are tested and meet the requirements for fair play and randomness.
  8. that there are prevention and detection controls or technology to stop fraud attempts;
  9. that there are procedures to identify suspicious betting patterns and transactions in sports betting. If a threat is detected, there shall be procedures to notify relevant sports bodies and the regulatory authority;
  10. that there are prevention and detection controls or technology to ensure that opportunities for cheating through collusion (external information exchange between customers) are eliminated.
  11. that, per the general terms and conditions of poker rooms, customers do not use robots to gain an advantage over other customers, and that there are procedures to monitor poker rooms to ensure that robots are not used. If a robot is detected, it should be stopped immediately. 

13. Educate and inform employees and partners about responsible gambling

Employees shall be educated about responsible gambling and given insight into causes of problem gambling. All agents and partners, as well as their employees, shall be offered a customized responsible gambling education.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that all employees receive information about the gambling company’s work on responsibility gambling at least once a year;
  2. that agents and other partners receive an adequate education about responsible gambling, gambling risks, and problem gambling before they are permitted to sell gambling products;
  3. that information provided by the educations is up to date and evaluated at regular intervals; and
  4. that all personnel involved in the sales of gambling products have a relevant education.

14. Pertinent gambling tools shall be offered in all digital channels

Gambling through digital channels means greater availability. These channels involve increased risk of developing a gambling problem, as well as increased opportunity to provide customers with tools to control their gambling. Gambling companies shall offer responsible gambling tools to customers so that they can take responsibility for their gambling.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that the possibility of a cooling-off period and self-exclusion is offered;
  2. that a self-test, which enables consumers to assess their gambling behaviour, is offered;
  3. that information about different games and the games’ function is offered;
  4. that information about the game’s risks is offered;
  5. that the value of money wagered is readily available on the gambling side;
  6. that any potential gambling school is not be directed at minors;
  7. that the home page has an 18-year symbol, which links to information about underage gambling;
  8. that, if possible, responsible gambling messaging is included in direct contacts with the customer;
  9. that a clearly visible link to counsel and support for costumers with problems is offered;
  10. that all customers are offered an easily accessible budget; and
  11. that natural breaks in the gameplay are offered.

 

15. Contribute with knowledge about gambling driving forces, gambling behaviour and causes of problem gambling

Gambling companies document all responsible gambling measures and evaluated their effects to add to the body of knowledge about gambling driving forces, gambling behaviour, gambling risks, and causes of problem gambling. Gambling companies shall act transparently by openly communicating and reporting on the work of responsible gambling. The information contains goals concerning responsible gambling, measures, and the effect of these. This information is readily available through different channels.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that there is a process to follow-up on responsible gambling measures taken;
  2. that there is continuous evaluation of responsible gambling measures taken;
  3. that key performance indicators are defined based on goals set at different levels of the gambling company;
  4. that efforts during the year are reported in relevant channels;
  5. that research within the field of responsible gambling is promoted; and
  6. that various stakeholders are invited to inform about the work on responsible gambling.

16. Collaboration with various stakeholders on responsible gambling

Gambling companies collaborate with various stakeholders, including the government, government agencies, researchers, organizations for problem gamblers, healthcare providers, and the public on matters related to problem gambling and responsible gambling. The purpose is to contribute to a holistic approach to responsible gambling issues and to gain further insights into the causes of problem gambling, problem gamblers’ perspective on gambling, and how gambling affects their situation.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that lessons are learned from experiences and knowledge to create more efficient responsible gambling measures;
  2. that different stakeholders are invited to dialogues to gain greater insights into the situation of problem gamblers;
  3. that lectures about problem gambling are offered in cooperation with organizations for problem gamblers and other industry actors;
  4. that contributions are made to a common platform for coordination on matters relating to problem gambling and responsible gambling; and
  5. that efforts are made to increase the body of knowledge about problem gambling and responsible gambling.

 

17. Continuously monitor and develop compliance with the Standard

By adhering to the Standard, gambling companies commit to meet all its requirements at all times. Gambling companies also commit to compliance with all requests and injunctions from the organization that owns and administrates the Standard. It includes adhering to the statutes and contributing to the development of the Standard so that confidence is maintained among all stakeholders.

This shall be done by ensuring:

  1. that there is a person at the gambling company with explicit responsibility for compliance to the Standard. He/she, or a by him/her appointed person, shall ensure that the education and information programs specified in the Standard are conducted annually or more frequently if necessary, ensure that the processes, policies, and procedures required for compliance are established, implemented and maintained, and has the responsibility and authority to regularly report on compliance with the Standard to the company’s top management;
  2. that the Standard is diligently implemented by the gambling company;
  3. that all employees and others working with the gambling company’s products at any time has the necessary knowledge of the Standard;
  4. that there are clear and measurable goals, processes and procedures for marketing and responsible gambling work, which at a minimum meet the Standard’s requirements;
  5. that there are systems and procedures for reporting deviations from the Standard, which are known and implemented by relevant employees;
  6. that conditions are created for compliance with the Standard when planning operations;
  7. that results of marketing and responsible gambling efforts are continuously monitored and evaluated; and
  8. that marketing and responsible gambling activities and routines are continuously tested and, when needed, revised;