Sweden: Spelinspektionen to Evaluate Online Gambling Restrictions

Sweden’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, announced in a statement on its website today that the government has requested a review of the gambling market in the country. The regulator also confirmed restrictions on online gambling operators will be lifted on November 14, 2021.

Evaluation of Online Gambling Restrictions

The Swedish government instructed the regulator to evaluate the impact of all temporary measures on online gambling, related to preventing gambling harm, on the background of recent developments of forms of gambling and accessibility to gambling.

Spelinspektionen is expected to submit a partial report by March 15, 2022, covering the first part of the review, the evaluation of the restrictions imposed on online gambling operators. The second part of the review, including proposals for measures to strengthen consumer protection and counteract public health problems, should be completed no later than October 31, 2023.

In conducting the review, Spelinspektionen should take into account possible changes in consumer gambling patterns as gambling market turnover has increased, driven by demand for online gaming, hinting at a possible long-term change in gambling behavior that may need to be followed up and re-addressed.

Restrictions to Remain until November 14

Restrictions imposed on licensed online gambling operators in Sweden during the period of coronavirus-related lockdowns are set to be lifted mid-way through November as initially announced, the national gambling regulator informed all interested parties today.

Enforced from July 1, 2020, and extended multiple times since then, the restrictions placed a cap of SEK5,000 ($600) on player weekly deposits and reduced the amount of customer bonus incentives offered by operators to SEK100 ($12), looking to protect the public from a surge in gambling addiction.

The policy, introduced as an initiative of the minister of social affairs Ardalan Shekarabi, was reviewed on a three-month basis and extended multiple times. The latest one was on May 20, 2021, when it was decided that the restrictions will remain in force until November 14, 2021.

Online gambling industry frustration went off the chart by the end of September when the government announced a lifting of restrictions for the public, prompting Sweden’s online gambling association body Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) to urge the government to lift the restrictions from the same date, September 29, for the online gambling operators.

Despite claiming that the restriction on deposits further dented the government’s chances to achieve its 90% channelization target, BOS’ call fell on deaf ears, as authorities believed the long period of lockdowns, which forced many people to spend more time at home, could lead to an increase in gambling problems.

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