Gambling limitations announced for the Swedish consumers, European Gaming and Betting Association disagrees with the proposed changes.
Gambling Limitations Announced, Expected to Start as of June 1
The Swedish government has announced plans for online gambling limitations. This is yet a side effect of the coronavirus spreading in the country and putting consumers at risk of addiction.
Ardalan Shekarabi, Sweden’s Minister of Health and Social affairs offered a weekly deposit limit for online gambling of SEK 5,000 (€459/$495/£401).
Besides limiting the weekly deposit amount, an offer is made for reducing the introductory bonuses to SEK100 ($10) and applying session time limits. If passed, limitations are expected to start as of June 1 and to remain active until the end of the year.
Unlike the United States for example, where the stay-at-home order combined with the closing of non-essential businesses closed all casinos, Sweden has taken a rather “ease path” through the pandemic that doesn’t automatically suspend the operation of businesses.
Keeping this in mind, many countries have already taken even more restrictive measures towards online gambling. Earlier this month, Latvia took actions and completely banned online gambling. A similar move was also completed by Spain, but the country even went further and reminded the holders and traders of cryptocurrency to pay their taxes.
The European Gaming and Betting Association on the Risks
Once Sweden’s plan was announced by Shekarabi, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) expressed their concern regarding the restrictions that were offered.
Although the proposal is to temporarily restrict the online gambling activity, according to EGBA, such actions might cause more harm than good. In the event that restrictions are applied, there is a high chance for Swedes to turn towards unregulated markets.
This discussion was actually initiated earlier this month by secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt. He is part of the trade association for online gambling and commented that the government is aiming at channelization for the users towards licensed markets. Some 75% of the planned 90% of users were using the services of licensed operators. In Hoffstedt’s own words:
We already have a problematic level of approximately 25% leakage when it comes to online casino, and with these governmental measures it will only get worse“.
Further on the discussion, EGBA is also raising a question as to whether the desired effect will be as expected. This is mainly because the planned restrictions will be implemented in 1 month time – starting June 1. Secretary General Maarten Haijer of EGBA commented:
In Sweden, gambling advertising spending is down and we haven’t seen evidence that average customer spend is up“. He continued with: “The measures could actually harm more customers than they protect because customers can easily find black market websites where the restrictions, and any other social protections, do not apply“.
Spelinspektionen – Sweden’s Regulator Agrees with the Offered Restrictions
The Spelinspektionen, which is Sweden’s gambling regulator, also took part in the discussions regarding the limitations. The regulator will have to issue monthly reports regarding the gambling market activity as well as raise social awareness.
In addition, the Spelinspektionen will work towards reducing the access of unlicensed operators. By doing so, the regulator will hopefully increase the channelization of users. Secretary General Gustaf Hoffstedt already noted that such improvement is a must.
Keeping in mind that EGBA (The European Gaming and Betting Association) disagrees with the government plan, SPelinspektionen head, Camilla Rosenberg is on the Prime Minister Shekarabi’s side. Rosenberg noted that: “Now there will be an even clearer focus on gaming responsibility and the fight against illegal gambling. We make immediate adjustments to the organization in order to meet the new demands placed on the authority.”