Swedish gamblers once again face deposit and time limits for their online gambling practises, as rising COVID-19 cases concern the government. Spelinspektionen made it public that they will not object to the planned gaming restrictions, but BOS is certain that this is a mistake.
With barely three months passing after original limits ended, the writing seems to be on the wall for gamblers in Sweden. The government launched a consultation earlier in January and intends to implement the restrictive measures for at least four months from the 7th of February.
At the start of the pandemic, Sweden imposed deposit, bonus, and time caps on remote gambling. The intention was for these restrictions to remain in place for a few months, but they stretched from 2 July 2020 until 14 November 2021. The Swedish government believes the rapid spread of the omicron variant justifies their decision to reinstate the limits.
Efficacy Study Underway
The country’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, received instruction from the government in November last year to conduct a study into the effects of the restrictions. The body has to compile an efficacy report as well as suggest new regulations for improved protection of consumers. Spelinspektionen commented that the study is still underway and although they do not object to restrictions being reinstated, they warned the consequences are unknown.
Sweden’s Ministry of Finance argues that a similar situation that motivated the initial limits is in play once again and the measures will protect at-risk gamblers. They believe that the increased spread of COVID-19 can lead to a surge in gambling addiction for Swedes and the caps are a way of curbing this.
Gustaff Hoffstedt from BOS responded with the association’s criticism of the proposed restrictions, as they believe the facts do not support the government’s claims.
Labelling the limitations as counterproductive, Hoffstedt said:
“We have requested evidence of the government’s findings of alarming increases in online casino play, as we have not seen such a development in our own books.”
Spelinspektionen intends to have their partial efficacy report ready by March this year, as determined by the government’s instructions. The regulator was very critical of the limitations put in place during 2020.
Tighter Reigns Despite Uncertainty
Deposit limits are stricter than it was the first time around, as punters may only deposit SEK 4,000 per week. Players must set time limits as well to help them keep track of their gambling. The Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) believes the steps will have the opposite effect the government hopes it will.
With gamblers experiencing pressure from the government with the wagering limitations, BOS argues that black market gambling will increase. Although Spelinspektionen’s study is ongoing, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling says that players will move away from regulated platforms to enjoy more freedom in their gambling. Hoffstedt commented:
“The restrictions create incentives for the high-volume consumer to, instead of playing with a single gaming company, instead play with many companies, in order to thus override the deposit limit.”
With the verdict out on Spelinspektionen’s efficacy study and BOS claiming that their numbers show no cause for concern, it seems like Swedish lawmakers are making this move based on a hunch.