What is BOS?
BOS is an acronym for Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (the Trade Association for Online Gambling). In other words, BOS is an association for gambling companies with an interest in the Swedish gambling market. Other member companies include game developers and other subcontractors.
Who are the members of BOS?
BOS currently has 19 members that together represent a majority of the Swedish online gambling market. 5 of these are the founding member companies, with a permanent seat on the board, and 14 are associated members. A current list of members is available on the BOS website, www.bos.nu.
Can anyone become a member of BOS?
No, the board of BOS, which consists of the five founding member companies, review all membership applications and compare them against a list of conditions. One basic condition is that the applicant company shall to hold a licence in at least one EU member country. Another condition is that the applicant follows the European CEN standard for responsible gambling and that it supports BOS’s ethical guidelines.
What is the CEN standard and where can I find it?
The European Committee for Standardization (or Comité Européen de Normalisation) is one of three public standards organizations officially recognised by the EU (www.cen.eu). CEN draws up voluntary technical specifications, such as a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), to help facilitate a single market for European industry and consumers across its member countries.
The Workshop Agreement “Responsible Remote Gambling Measures” is a set of 134 practical measures aimed at safeguarding a high level of consumer protection and ensuring that remote gambling operators behave responsibly in the European Union.
All BOS member companies are obliged to adhere to the CEN standards on responsible remote gambling measures.
What does BOS want to accomplish?
BOS promotes a fair gambling market in Sweden. This entails a gambling regulation that treats all actors equally. We would like to see a regulation that enables and promotes game development and attractive products in free competition and in combination with responsible gambling measures.
Why is there a trade association for online gambling companies?
BOS has been established to promote industry interests vis-á-vis politicians, government agencies, the media, etc. BOS is the main industry representative and provides knowledge and facts, for example during the upcoming implementation of a licence system, but also more generally.
There are many false claims about the gambling industry in the media. One is that our members are unregulated and illegal. This is completely false as all of our members are regulated by at least one EU state.
What’s your priority right now?
In September 2015, the Swedish government launched an inquiry to investigate and lay the groundwork for a reregulated Swedish gambling market. The inquiry is set to present its proposals in March 2017, after which the government will prepare a bill and present it to the legislative assembly that will ultimately vote on it. It’s essential that Sweden succeed with the reregulation in favor of a licencing system. A successful licence system is characterized by a high level of channeling, i.e. that gambling companies and their customers operate within the licence system and not outside of it. Such a system presupposes fair conditions for companies seeking a licence.
Why is there so much advertisement from gambling companies?
The right to advertise is constitutionally enshrined in the Swedish Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression and the Freedom of the Press Act. The extensive advertisement can be exhausting, but the alternative – infringing on the freedom of expression – is a terrifying prospect. Additionally, the state-owned AB Svenska Spel is the biggest buyer of advertisement space among gambling companies – not one of the BOS member companies.
Based on developments in other countries, we believe that the level of advertisement purchased in traditional media, such as print and TV, will decrease once a licence system has been implemented. The reason for this is, among other things, that parts of the advertisement transitions over to sponsoring, to the benefit of the sporting community. Also, we shouldn’t forget that advertisement sales are crucial for the survival of media outlets without public service financing.
What are affiliates?
The gambling industry uses so-called affiliates in their marketing. A gambling company may have several thousand affiliates, which in turn can have hundreds of traffic sources each. Occasionally ads appear on inappropriate or even illegal websites. This problem is not unique for gambling companies but happens to e-commerce companies and other online marketing as well. However, the actors in the gambling industry work proactively and continuously to prevent this by:
- Clearly stipulating in contracts with affiliates that advertising on inappropriate or illegal sites is not acceptable
- Shutting down affiliates who break this rule and freezing their payments
- Immediately removing ads discovered on illegal sites
How does BOS view the use of affiliates by member companies?
The amount of affiliates and sub-sites make it too difficult to manually or digitally deal with all affiliate-related problems. However, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, where all the major gambling companies are members, have sent out recommendations to its members on how to minimize problems. The goal is to completely eliminate the problems in collaboration with other stakeholders in the advertisement market.
Why don’t you pay taxes in Sweden?
BOS member companies pay many different taxes in Sweden, except for on those activities that they are currently banned from participating in and, subsequently, cannot pay taxes for. A licence system will lead to significantly higher tax revenues for the Swedish government from the companies that receive a Swedish licence.
Why do you want a Swedish licence system? You’re already here and doing well for yourselves.
BOS’s member companies desire order and predictability, which is best achieved when markets are regulated and the companies have clear rules to play by. This eliminates the uncertainty, and companies can operate under equal and known conditions.
It’s our belief that everyone involved stands to gain from this, including the gambling companies.
Is it really possible to protect the consumer when gambling takes place on the Internet?
It’s easier to protect the consumers on the Internet, where we know so much more about the gambler than is possible with physical games. Identity control, including age restrictions, is rigorous. In addition, online gambling enables tracking of gambling behaviour. Once a gambler demonstrates a problematic behaviour, companies are able to intervene and offer support and help.
Why do you advocate for the sale of state-owned AB Svenska Spel? Isn’t it a good thing that the sporting community receives the surplus from its activities?
The government is tasked with the unique responsibility of creating the legal framework that the rest of us must abide by. Having the state operate its own gambling company undermines trust in public institutions. It’s never a good idea to be player and referee at the same time.
Contrary to popular belief, the sporting community has not received Svenska Spel’s surplus for many years. The surplus of Svenska Spel goes directly and unmarked to the state treasury. We believe that both the state treasury and the sporting community would benefit from having more tax-paying actors in Sweden and allowing them to sponsor sports.