Operating in conditions of greater social isolation, the Swedish gambling market could see an exodus of companies after the Social Security Minister proposed tougher measures on gambling.
Sweden’s Gambling Bosses Say No to Mass Restrictions
A number of Swedish gaming license holders have cautioned that they may suspend operations in the country in light of new and tougher online gambling restrictions proposed by Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi two weeks ago.
As per the new restrictions, operators will have to limit the daily and monthly deposits as well as impose gaming time limits, prompting many players to opt into unregulated iGaming websites instead, industry leaders have cautioned.
Responding to Shekarabi, leading industry operators, including Kindred Group, LeoVegas, William Hill, Betsson, and NetEnt CEOs, said that if players were to quit the regulated Swedish market, even temporarily, the companies would be forced to begin phasing out.
The response came in the form of an open letter to Shekarabi sent by the Swedish online gambling, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) industry association. The letter appealed to Shekarabi not to drive local gamblers away but, rather, to channel them to regulated markets and websites where their gambling behavior can be monitored for signs of addiction and excessiveness.
Even though Sweden has one of the highest channeling rates, with some 87% players in the country opting for the regulated market, the online casino rate has taken a tumble, falling down to 72%.
Same Licensing Deals, Harsher Operating Conditions
Licensed operators also explained that current operating conditions were completely different than the license package they opted into back in 2019 when the industry became legal. Gambling executives have cautioned that Shekarabi’s proposed measures could fall short of their intended purpose, as prompting an exodus among licensed regulators would leave a completely unregulated market, with little to no consumer protection.
They further added that customers were free to pick where the best products are and should customers leave, so would they [gambling operators]. The minister is open to altering these amendments, as he recently spoke to local media that the rules weren’t decided on. Yet, he might seek to impose the depositing limits nevertheless.
Problem Gambling in Sweden
In terms of pure gambling addiction, Sweden’s female players outnumber their male counterparts, Ulla Romild who conducted a comprehensive study on the country’s problem gambling population, has said.
Out of 45,000 problem gamblers in Sweden, 64% were women. Meanwhile, Shekarabi has been pushing for tougher measures on gambling-related advertisement in the country. Back in April, he had this to say: “More needs to be done so that those who are most vulnerable in the market are protected.”
Addressing problem gambling at a time of a global pandemic, Finland also introduced loss limits and suspended all lottery draws through September 30.
Shekarabi seems determined to impose a SEK 5,000 ($500) limit on deposits, which could be the final straw for many established and trusted gaming operators.