The Swedish government met a great deal of resistance when it announced its intention to extend the current temporary restrictions on online gambling from July 2nd to November 14th, 2020.
One of the major proponents of this resistance has been BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling.
Despite their best efforts however the government went ahead with the restrictions, however, they have recently found a formidable ally in the Riksdag who represent the “will of the people” in matters of Swedish law.
Baseless Comments Without Factual Support
The Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee (KU) took exception to several baseless statements by Swedish Minister for Social Security, Ardalan Shekarabi, which they felt were nothing short of fear mongering.
During an April press conference Shekarabi said:
“What we see now is a dangerous cocktail of several circumstances that risk the increase of problem gambling and gambling addiction. The picture of this problematic situation is further strengthened when we see the gambling statistics available. Here, there are indications of increased gambling on the most dangerous games.”
In particular this statement regarding Sweden’s problem gambling statistics, because of the health crisis, came under fire by the KU:
“The review has also included Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi’s statement on the basis for temporary gambling regulations. It has become clear that the Minister has based his statement on information that does not allow for a definite conclusion as to whether gambling had increased or not.”
To pre-empt any comments that the Minister was reading a prepared speech, the KU added that when speaking in his official capacity Shekarabi is “responsible for his opinions and also for the information he provides being correct”.
Operators Not Surprised
It would seem however that online casino operators are not surprised that Shekarabi is willing to muddy the waters when it comes to online gambling and its impact, factual or otherwise, on the wellbeing of Swedish residents.
A May 2020 open letter by BOS to Shekarabi read:
“The sad thing is that the government, with Ardalan Shekarabi at the forefront, does not want to talk to stakeholders like us, about how we can work together and, with the support of the insight we possess, develop a well-functioning Swedish gaming market.”
Regardless of Sweden being heralded as a leading gaming jurisdiction with fair and balanced regulations, there is clearly a history of mistrust regarding the minister, add to this his assertions that legal casino games are "dangerous”, and one could view it as an underhanded attack on the country’s gambling framework.