It’s official! Swedish punters can gamble once again without restrictions looming over their heads. On 14 November, all of the government-imposed temporary online gambling restrictions became null and void.
For more than 16 months, the Swedish government had tight limits imposed on Swedes as they tried to curb harmful gambling behaviour during lockdown periods. First announced in June 2020, they extended the temporary limits many times and it stayed in place, even though other industries with restrictions opened in September 2021.
Caps Come Off
Lawmakers in Sweden revert to the Swedish Gambling Authority’s standard regulations as implemented in 2019. With COVID-19 hitting economies worldwide and governments closing industries with lockdown enforcements, citizens were homebound and looking for things to stay busy with. Some took up baking lessons or classes to learn something new. Others turned to entertainment services.
Sweden’s government took a proactive and very strict approach to avoid online gambling from becoming the hobby of choice. During June 2020, they announced that all online gambling operators must cap player deposits and losses at SEK 5,000. Operators could not award gamblers with a welcome bonus of more than SEK 100, and punters had to limit their time on casino sites.
After a few extensions of these temporary restrictions, they removed the caps on Swedish gambling effective as of 15 November 2021. This does not mean unrestricted gambling for Swedes, though.
The regulations put in place by Spelinspektionen during 2019 remain. Swedes may still only receive one welcome bonus, players need to set their own limits, and they highly recommend that players make use of all responsible gambling tools available.
In the Clear, But Not Out of the Woods
Prior to the expiration of the gambling limits, Spelinspektionen received instructions from the government to launch a study into the effects these restrictions had. The efficacy report needs to include suggestions from the Gambling Authority on new regulations to better protect Swedish consumers.
According to Gustaff Hoffstedt, Secretary General at BOS (Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling) the government’s concerns about online gambling were not substantiated.
“The main argument from the Government for the restrictions was a concern that increased time spent in the home during the pandemic would lead to increased gambling problems. That did not happen.”
The country’s Minister of Social Insurance, Ardalan Shekarabi, said the instructions for the investigation and possible further regulations stem from the fact that online gambling revenue increased.
In his statement, he said:
“Online gaming has probably benefited from changed consumption patterns since the re-regulation. There is a risk that this has led to a long-term behavioural change with increased gambling. This is a development that should be followed up to see if there is a need for further measures.”
The inspectorate has until 31 October 2023 to complete the report, but they need to submit a partial report by March 2022.