Sweden: Horse Racing Exempt from Deposit Limits, Minister Suggests

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An amendment to the temporary restrictions put forward by Sweden’s Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi is seeking to make exempt horse and sports betting from the SEK 5000 weekly deposit limit on players. In April, the Social Minister came up with a temporary set of restrictive measures, aimed at preventing people from developing bad gambling habits as they were spending more time at home due to the widely adopted approach to contain the further virus spread.

Some Verticals Exempt

In the document aimed at explaining the proposed changes, the government points out to some concerns regarding the idea of deposit limits being imposed across all verticals, recognizing different forms of gambling imply different level of bad habit development risk. These concerns were raised by the horse racing operator AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) during a consultation held for the original controls.

The restrictions were initially meant to enter into force June 1 and run throughout 2020, but now they are targeting July 2 as a start date. If adopted, the revised proposal would clearly show that the measures are aimed at online casinos only, spurring serious controversy in the industry as to what is the exact motive behind the move.

Minister Slammed by Industry Association

The association for online gaming, Branscheförenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), slammed the amended proposal, claiming the proposed change is looking to provide benefits for operators in which the government has vested interest, such as ATG, where the majority of board members were appointed by the government.

“The new suggestion is impossible to understand from a consumer protection perspective. Since the first governmental suggestions were presented, we have received data from the Swedish Gambling Authority and the Swedish Tax Authority showing that online casino has not increased during covid-19, whereas horse betting has exploded. Against all rationality the Government now wants to exclude horse betting from further regulation whereas online casino shall receive further restrictions.”

Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary General, BOS

According to the data obtained, players clearly shifted to betting on horse racing rather than online casino, as there was a 37% month-over-month increase in revenue from betting on racing between March and April, based on the return reports from the five largest operators, with April revenue in the vertical reaching its all-time high. It is obvious that the recent move to exclude horse racing from the deposit limits has nothing to do with consumer protection, Mr. Hoffstedt concluded.

The Secretary General strongly criticized the initial set of restrictions, too, stating that the government was failing badly in its attempt to channel the Swedish online gambling market, and if the restrictions were to be enforced, it would only help illegal operators at the expense of the licensed ones.

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