State-owned gambling operator Svenska Spell has taken the unusual step of refusing to take further bets related to one of the country’s football leagues.
The Sport and Casino igaming subsidiary of Svenska Spel was responding to a request by the SvFF, the Swedish Football Association, which asked for the suspension of betting on the Division 2 Sodra Svealand Football League, which is effectively the fourth tier of Swedish football.
Owing to the distances involved and the difficulty in travelling at certain times of year, football at the fourth-tier level in Sweden is divided into six regional leagues. The Sodra Svealand league is based in the south-east of the country, and recently attracted attention after Svenska Spel reported the identification of suspicious betting patterns involving markets related to the league.
Speaking about the potential problem, the general secretary of the SvFF, Hakan Sjostrand, said that the threat to the integrity of the league was so serious that they had had to take the step of asking Svenska Spel to suspend markets for the remainder of the season.
A number of organisations involved in the monitoring of Swedish football integrity have identified several matches in the Sodra Svealand division as potentially suspect owing to match-fixing, and the Swedish gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen has called for more drastic action, demanding a complete ban on any operator offering markets on the league.
Svenska Spel’s head of betting integrity, Dan Korhonen said that the company had expressed their concerns with the SvFF as the number of games involved is large enough to affect the integrity of the whole league, and that they could find no other solution other than suspending betting. It is not yet clear whether a blanket ban on Sodra Svealand betting markets will be imposed by the regulator, but Svenska Spel have already announced that their suspension is indefinite.