Swedish gambling operators against the restrictions

Simona Boshkova | Published 12 May 2020, 9:58 a.m.

The Swedish gambling operators and industry associations are against the proposed restrictions for Swedish online casino licensees, stating that only unlicensed operators will benefit from them. Therefore, Sweden’s Gaming Authority (Spellinspektionen) has questioned some of the new restrictions that the Swedish Government plans to introduce.

Last month, Sweden’s Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi published a plan for implementing an online deposit limit. The newly proposed restrictions would set 5.000 Swedish Krona (almost £400) mandatory weekly deposit limit and 100 Swedish Krona (around £8) on online bonus offers.

These restrictions already caused a doubtful response from the General Secretary of the Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) online gambling industry group, Gusaf Hoffstedt, who warned that such restrictive regulations would inspire players to turn to gambling sites that are not subject to Sweden’s regulations.

Swedish operators criticise new casino rules

Hoffstedt’s response was supported by a number of Swedish operators who came up with their own statements. Henrik Tjärnström, chief executive of Unibet operator Kindred, compared the new rules to an open invitation to illegal gambling sites. He added that they are concerned that the Swedish gambling market continues to shrink and these regulations would result in a continued decline in the market.

In addition, the operator said that there was no data to support that problem gambling has increased in the last months. Also, Kindred cited a report by BOS which said that the online casino channelling rate is yet to go down, as low as 72%. The operator stated that the government didn’t carry out an impact assessment of the technical changes that are necessary for the new rules. As a result, licence holders won’t have time to implement these changes until June 1st.

In the meantime, the Chief Executive of Svenska Spel, Patrik Hofbauer, explained that the existing regulations set out the operators’ responsibilities to the players, meaning that they don’t need new ones. He added that a measure that might be effective in fighting problem gambling on both licenced and unlicensed sites would be a ban on short-term borrowing by players. Hofbauer proposed the Government to set a requirement for lenders to check a player’s total debt in real-time before granting new loans.

The Swedish gambling operator association BOS published an open letter to the minister and launched a petition for withdrawal of the regulations. The petition was signed by at least 12 industry chief executives.

Spelinspektionen has also examined the new restrictions

Furthermore, Sweden’s Gaming Authority has also examined some of the new restrictions that the Government proposed. Even if the regulator said that it agrees with “the spirit of the rules”, it said that it was concerned that the restrictions would reduce players’ protection.

According to the announcement of the Spellinspektionen, the regulator is generally positive to strengthen players’ protection, but questions some of the effects of the restrictions. It added that the proposals will have a minor effect on the player protection of the licenced operators.

Spellinspektionen explained that the players who are affected by the limits would probably play on other sites, including unlicensed ones, which could cause harm. That would mean that the proposed restrictions would only have an effect on high spending players. In terms of the limit on bonuses, the regulator said that the operators need a period of transition so that they won’t offer larger bonuses in May than they can in June. On the other side, Spellinspektionen reacted positively to the proposal of a maximum time a player may be logged in.