Sweden to Extend Online Casinos Restrictions until June 2021

The government of Sweden is planning to extend the current covid-19-related gambling measures throughout June 2021. A Memorandum has been submitted for discussion until November 23.

Sweden Considers an Extension of Ad-Hoc Gambling Measures during Lockdown

Sweden is adamant about enforcing the current restrictions on the gambling industry and extending them well through June 2021, the government said, as part of the country’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Long held as an example of handling the covid-19 pandemic, Sweden was among the first countries to draft and enforce strict anti-gambling measures that would limit loss limits and gambling sessions in a way that protects consumers in the best possible way.

The move caused a polemic with industry leaders turning to the government and asking for a more lenient approach. However, a new Memorandum is already in the works and it will be up for discussion until November 23, 2020 after which it will extend the existing series approved in July.

Minister of Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi cautioned that the country has commented that the new measures are introduced as the country is battling the epidemic, which was taking on more serious proportions.

According to Shekarabi, gambling was one of the areas in which vulnerabilities were still visible and needed a direct response to reduce outstanding risks. The drafted measures include a SEK 5,000 deposit limit as well as a mandatory time limit and bonus limits up to SEK 100.

At the time the original measures were rolled out, there were many skeptics. Even the Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) suggested that if the industry is overregulated that could make the gaming experience unsustainable for operators and force players to shift their focus onto unregulated, offshore operators where consumer protections are poor.

A study by psychiatrist Anders C. Håkansson carried out in June showed that Swedish gamblers do bet more during the lockdown while the National Association of Gambling Addicts argued that the first data would be available in the late fall.  

Reduced in-Person Interaction, Heightened Appetite for Irresponsible Gambling

The government’s position is motivated with the fact that due to the shut-down of a series of land-based venues, and the increased social isolation and economic vulnerability in society, more people are prone to indulge in reckless gambling behavior, incurring a financial loss.

The Swedish trade association BOS argued against the first measures saying that, as a result, the traffic to licensed operators may fall to as little as 60%.

LeoVegas chief executive Gustaf Hagman has also cautioned that the continued downturn brought in by the pandemic has been affecting the Nordics. LeoVegas saw revenue drop by 20% due to the restrictions.

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