Are the Swedish Gambling Restrictions Just a Political Move?

Experts participating in the SBC Summit Barcelona last week discussed the controversial gambling restrictions in Sweden. BonusFinder Managing Director, Fintan Costello said that the restrictions may be a political move.

Gambling Restrictions in Sweden Remain Highly Controversial

Earlier this year, the Swedish government introduced a set of temporary online gambling restrictions. Government officials pushed the restrictions in order to increase player protection during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The restrictions were initially proposed and discussed in April and May. Among the restrictions, we find a $500 weekly deposit caps as well as a bonus no greater than SEK100, which is approximately $10. Swedish officials also proposed a time limit for online gambling activities.  Back in June, the restrictions were approved by Swedish officials. The measures aiming at enhanced player protection came into effect on July 2 and will remain through 2020.

Those gambling restrictions were precisely one of the topics discussed by experts in a panel at the online version of the Global Betting and Gaming Show – the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital last week. SBC News reported that Fintan Costello, the Managing Director at BonusFinder, believed that the Swedish online gambling restrictions may be a political move. He stressed that it is obvious that the restrictions were a “nonsense piece of legislation”.

“It’s clearly just politics – I’d argue that it’s not even aimed at player protection, it’s just pure politics,”

said Costello.

According to Costello, it is ridiculous to believe the effectiveness of the restrictions given that players can open multiple accounts or even transition to betting offshore. A similar point was raised by the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) last month. Back then, the Spelinspektionen said that the casino deposit caps are unenforceable, citing the same reasons that Costello outlined at the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital panel.

The Swedish Gambling Legislation Compared to the Danish

Morten Ronde, the Managing Director of Nordic Gaming also criticized the restrictions in Sweden. Participating in the same panel as Costello, he compared the regulated gambling market of Sweden and Denmark. According to Ronde, the Swedish and Danish legislation are nearly identical.

I’d guess that 80% of the law is the same – but it’s that final 20% that makes the difference,” said the Managing Director of Nordic Gaming. He outlined that the only major difference between the two legislations is the regulation of the bonuses of the industry. Furthermore, Ronde pointed out that when a bonus cap is introduced for a digital industry, the result is the reduction of the competition on the market, and this is what was done in Sweden.

Another problem that Ronde outlined is the communication between the operators and the gambling authority in Sweden. He said that the Swedish authority created a “non-transparent market”. As an example, Ronde gave Denmark, saying that every company has two points of contact within the gambling authority and in such a way, many issues are cleared with ease.

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