Sweden limits deposits and bonus offers

Cvetanka Cvetanovska | Published 24 Apr 2020, 2:24 p.m.

Sweden’s casino players face another challenge on their online activity after the government proposed temporary rules and conditions.

Yesterday Sweden’s Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi expressed his thoughts about implementing an online deposit limit at a press conference in Stockholm. He unveiled a set of proposals to limit the player’s possible exposure to harm and non-compliant content. Moreover, he added that in the eyes of the government, the rise of online casino activities puts consumers at a higher risk than usual.

New regulations and limits have been proposed

Proposed regulations will be up for public discussion until May 7 and the Minister expects they will take force on June 1, with an execution deadline until the end of 2020. 
The rules, as reported by Swedish outlet Breakit are as follows:

  • Setting a limit on the playing time will be mandatory for every player
  • The highest weekly deposit limit will be 5.000 Swedish Krona (almost £400)
  • Online bonus offers cannot exceed 100 Swedish Krona (around £8)

Shekarabi who warned about a possible disruption earlier this month said that new rules were necessary in order to handle this period gracefully. Certain Swedish online gambling licensees have reported strong progress in online casino gaming activities. In the last two months, more players and consumers have focused their attention on online gaming due to the global sports event cancellations. He added that the increased volume of gaming activity occurs at a time when Swedes face a high risk of unemployment and financial uncertainty.

On the other hand, the industry stakeholders expressed their concerns at the beginning of the month in terms of the increased restrictions and bans. They warned the authorities about a possible black market opening due to the restrictions.

A need to act quickly 

The Spelinspektionen gambling regulator will be required to submit monthly reports to the government. The report will go in details referring to the market development, public awareness of the Spelpaus self-exclusion registry and other protective measures for consumers who set deposit limits. Spelinspektionen would also be in charge to strengthen the supervision of unauthorised casino operators, including internationally licenced sites that obtain consumers without permission. They may be granted with additional authority tools in order to prevent these international rogues from accessing the local market.

The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) issued a statement where they point out that new regulations could do more harm to consumers protection than actually help those in need. This would further encourage customers to play on internationally licenced sites over which the Swedish regulator has no authority.

Operators lower their advertising spend 

While the local regulator has fined many casino operators for failing to observe proper self-exclusion protocols, they continue to curb their advertising spending. Numbers and statistics show a nearly 50% decline in operators’ marketing spend, compared to the same month last year. This refers to the top 10 Swedish licenced operators like Cherry AB and Svenska Spel. Their spending cuts partially happened because of the suspension of live sports events, and the decision on cutting the overall marketing budget, which was announced in October 2019.

Since last year, casino operators are trying to fight for consumer attention following the launch of Sweden’s regulated market. The overexposure and commercial appearance led Sweden’s government to launch a regulatory body that would be able to ban all gambling ads if operators don’t comply with the laws.

The bonus offers of the operators are already limited to first-time customers only. This led some operators to characterise Spelinspektionen’s rules as vague in areas related to commercial activities, creating additional uncertainty. However, new companies continue to apply for online licences. As an example, Malta-based betting exchange Smarkets received its Swedish pass on April 15, while online casino operator Lycos got its invite on April 20. Spelinspektionen has now issued over 100 licences since the regulated approach of the market. 

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