Sweden regulations could do more harm than good

Simona Boshkova | Published 28 Apr 2020, 10:45 a.m.

The latest restrictive regulations in Sweden could fail to protect players, according to the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). Sweden’s online gambling market could fall farther behind the internationally licenced rivals due to its deposit and bonus limitations. The European industry body is worried that the restrictions could do more harm than good to the users who need help the most.

The response comes after Sweden’s Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi proposed a number of regulations to limit the players’ possible exposure to harm and non-compliant content. The suggested regulations include setting limits on online gambling time, deposits and losses, while limiting bonus offers to SEK 100 (around £8), and weekly deposit limit of 5.000 SEK (around £400). They will be available for public discussion until May 7 and it’s expected that they will take effect from June 1. 

Gambling operators already had restrictive rules

The General Secretary of the Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) online gambling industry group, Gusaf Hoffstedt, stated that the online gambling operators which have licences by Sweden’s Spelinspektionen regulatory body already had restrictive marketing rules. Some of the rules include a ban on VIP bonuses, limitation on bonuses to first-time users, as well as ensuring that customers haven’t registered with the national Spelpaus self-exclusion program.

For that reason, Mr Hoffstedt added that internationally licenced gambling sites offer more competitive prices and attractive bonuses, and they are not subject to Sweden’s regulations. That’s why he believes that customers will turn to such websites, and Sweden’s newly proposed regulations will be largely ineffective in protecting them.

Hoffsted noted that the Government comes up with new regulations for the Swedish licenced gaming operators almost every day. This could cause international operators to gain additional market share and to take over the entire gambling market. He accused the government that has failed in the “balancing act” of setting up regulations that attract customers.

To justify his proposed regulations, the Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi said that online casino gaming is one of the riskiest types of gambling, which is the main reason for proposing such rules. 

Online casino channelling rate is yet to go down

Before the launch of Sweden’s regulated online gambling market in January 2019, the government claimed that they will ‘channel’ at least 90% of the country’s online players to licenced sites in the country. In a short time after the launch, the government said that this percentage is 91%. As we reported, the Swedish gambling market significantly improved in the previous year. However, the channelling rate fell to 85% by the middle of the year.

With the latest regulations, this number is yet to go down, according to experts. BOS called for the help of consultants at Copenhagen Economics, who stated that the current rate of channelling players is at 81-85%. Moreover, the experts concluded that the online casino channelling rate is 72-78%, while the rate for lotteries and horse betting is higher.

Hoffstedt said that these figures should worry the Swedish government, which expressed concern of increased online casino activities among Swedish licensees earlier this month.

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