As with any online new market or product, there is a period where everyone does what they please with very little concern for regulations or government input. That was certainly the case with online gambling a few years ago, since then we have seen the market mature and great progress being made in terms of licensing and regulation.
Regulation is a necessary part of market maturation and access to above the line media and other growth tools. One of the downsides is when the regulatory framework is used to limit the industry rather than help it grow.
The Short Term Is Now Permanent
During the pandemic, the Swedish Gambling Authority imposed several online gambling limits under the guise of protecting players from overspending and developing compulsive gambling behaviours. These limitations included amongst other things a blanket monthly deposit limit of only SEK 5000, the imposition of a SEK 100 limit on player bonuses and limits on how long a player may gamble.
The announcement that Sweden will be ending all pandemic related limitations and restrictions in the country on September 29th came as welcome news to many private and business sectors in the country.
Johan Carlson, director of the Swedish CDC, said:
"It is no longer justifiable to keep these restrictions,"
Naturally online gamblers celebrated a return to normal for the casino industry as well. However, Ardalan Shekarabi, Sweden’s Minister for Social Security, dashed these hopes by stating that all online casino restrictions will remain in place despite all other societal restrictions being lifted.
This decision has met with derision from across the online gambling industry. BOS, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, has gone so far as to cite research done into online gambling addiction and problem gambling rates which proved that “consumers with a higher risk of problem gambling has significantly decreased” rather than increased as the government claims.
There has been no further comment by Shekarabi on when if ever, the limits on online casinos will be lifted.
NOGA Wants To Limit Advertising?
Just down the digital highway, the latest online gambling advertising amendments in the Netherlands is facing resistance from NOGA, the Netherlands Online Gambling Association. NOGA is the Dutch industry association comprising a select group of members who include LeoVegas, Betsson, Betway and many others.
Peter-Paul de Goeij, director of NOGA, said:
“First of all, it is very good that there is now an advertising code for online gambling. We cannot afford that there will be no protection against too many gambling advertisements.”
At first glance, this concern over “too many gambling ads” may seem counterintuitive given the relationship between NOGA and its online casino partners. However, de Goeij explains that his concerns relate to Dutch land-based casinos who are free to advertise their offline casino offerings without restriction while also posting three ads for their online casino platforms.
He postulates that this will unfairly limit online casinos while allowing land-based casinos to flood the airways with advertisements for their brick and mortar casinos.
He goes on to add:
“The viewer does not make the distinction between offline and online at all – the consumer just sees an irritating gambling ad. In addition, gambling advertisements of today’s gambling providers are already ubiquitous, on television, radio, internet, bus shelters and in our letterboxes. Let’s face it, consumers find too many gambling adverts just irritating.”
NOGA is in fact asking that land-based casino ads also be restricted, or at least parsed into the advertising allotment for a brand, so as not to cause player complaints due to over advertising. Their main concern is the potential knee jerk reaction from the government which could adversely affect the now already limited online casino advertisers.