Why IP filtering is the wrong way to go

Why IP filtering is the wrong way to go

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Totally Gaming
Unibet's Peter Alling said that good regulation is more productive than blocking sites

Unibet’s head of public affairs for the Nordics has told TotallyGaming.com that the Swedish government should dismiss any proposals that would require internet service providers (ISP) to block unlicensed gambling sites.

Peter Alling responded to leading Swedish ISP Bahnhof’s claim that it had received an email from Haken Hallstedt, the investigator tasked by the Swedish government to propose new online gambling laws, requesting comments on the possibility of internet protocol (IP) blocking of unlicensed sites.

There is no suggestion that Hallstedt, director general of gambling regulator Lotteriinspektionen, is certain to include IP filtering among his online gambling proposals when they are revealed in March 2017, but while Alling accepts that the investigator must look at all options, he believes that blocking would be both futile and unpopular with the country’s citizens.

“The idea of such measures is a reminiscence from the 20th century,” Alling said. “From 18 years of operation, Unibet knows that blocking has limited effect on minimising addictive gambling or fraud. Those jurisdictions in Europe that have implemented blocking have not reached the necessary 95 per cent channelling.

“The political disapproval of any fencing of measures is strong in Sweden so my educated guess would be there will be no active blocking measures.

“Today, one needs to understand that digitalisation has empowered customers, thus any regulations aspiring to be long-term sustainable must meet the wish of the customer.”

As well as the gambling industry, it appears that ISP operators are also not keen on blocking, as Bahnhof chief executive Jon Karlung said: “To throttle the internet and freedom of communication is obviously the wrong way to go.”

When finalised next year, Hallstedt’s proposals will be the subject of public consultation before the government makes official proposals in the second half of 2017. Sweden’s new online gambling laws must then pass the European Commission notifying process before enactment in 2018.

Alling believes that Sweden’s best chance of success is to encourage a market in which licensed and regulated operators can be competitive and customers are well informed.

Alling added: “The only way to ensure high channelling over time is to make sure all customers make informed choices and place their bets with licensed operators. This can be achieved by an open, competitive market with a full scope of products. 

"Customers must trust operators, because of quality licence approval according to transparent requirements, trust the product because it is of high quality and enjoy the services.

“Responsible gambling procedures should include a self-exclusion platform that affects all licensed operators, while marketing must not target vulnerable groups in society.”

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