The Swedish gambling market had breathed a collective sigh of relief when a Svenska Spel report showed that the market had not seen a more than 30% increase in spending as had been previously feared.
The report rather showed a 31% increase in interest in online gambling, a figure that when balanced with a decrease in land-based gambling and compared to other Swedish online services (such as retails shopping and delivery services) was the norm.
Maarten Haijer, EGBA Secretary General, said:
“In Sweden, gambling advertising spending is down and we haven’t seen evidence that average customer spend is up.”
However, despite this Swedish Regulators have gone ahead with a series of restriction which only impacts licenced casinos and could end up doing more harm than good.
New Market Restrictions
The restrictions which are to come into effect as of June 1st, and are expected to remain active until the end of 2020, include:
- Weekly deposits are no to exceed SEK 5,000 (€458)
- Gaming machine losses will be limited to SEK 5,000 per week (€458)
- Casino bonuses may not exceed SEK 100 (€9)
- Players will have to set gaming limits on their account
The insistence by Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi that these restrictions are in place to get ahead of any future problems in the region is not supported by either Svenska Spel CEO Patrik Hofbauer or EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer.
Haijer went on to add:
“There is no compelling evidence that arbitrary restrictions on customer spend have a positive effect on safer gambling. 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.”
Channelling Goal Slipping Away
It was previously reported that the Swedish Gaming Authority was facing internal backlash over its failure to achieve the goal of channelling 90% of all online gambling via regulated casino operators. At that time, they were hovering at the 85% mark, well off the required 90%.
With the introduction of these harsh limits on legal casinos and no action plan for criminalising gambling at unregulated casinos, it is expected that black market casino share in Sweden will spike to an all-time high over the next 2-3 months.
We can only hope that the government is willing to reverse their decision and rather work with regulated casinos to foster a safe and informed marketplace.