venska Spel, Sweden's state gaming company, will now require participants to be at least 18 years of age.
The country had used the popular excuse of consumer protection to rationalize its gambling monopoly in the face of European Union requirements of open markets and free competition. But European Commission investigators said that the lack of age conditions to play in 13 of 22 games featured by Svenska Spel demonstrated that protection of revenue might be a higher priority for the government than guarding consumers.The new rules will also apply to all gambling in Sweden, including online casinos operating without government licensing.
According to spokesmen for Svenska Spel, the change was not dictated by EC pressure, but rather to simplify regulations for operators of Svenska Spel games, who had difficulty enforcing the various different restrictions previously imposed on the gambling games.
A number of EU members are employing the consumer protection defense to justify national regulations requiring such EU violations as local licensing or local land-based servers and operations. The EU Treaty states that all members are to accept licensing and regulation of services by any other member nation as sufficient to ensure safety, unless special circumstances can be documented.