Swedish government holds consultation on extending gambling restrictions

The Swedish government has launched a consultation on extending temporary controls for online casino gambling.

The Swedish government has launched a consultation on extending the temporary controls for online casino gambling which includes a SEK5,000 weekly deposit limit until June 2021.

In its memorandum, which has been submitted for consultation until 23 November 2020, the government proposes to extend the controls in order to provide a better level of protection to players during the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise in the country.

Minister of Social Insurance Ardalan Shekarabi said: “We see that the development of covid-19 is going in the wrong direction in several parts of the country. The situation is very serious. In the wake of the pandemic, we see continued risks in the area of ​​gambling, which means that we need to act to reduce the risks for vulnerable consumers.”

Proposed controls

In addition to the SEK5,000 weekly deposit limit, the government has proposed setting mandatory limits on playing time for those gambling at online casinos and land-based venues. Bonuses offered by licensed operators who offer online casino gambling will be limited to SEK100.

The current measures came into effect on 2 July and were met with criticism from the gambling industry over the risk to channelisation rates. 

At the time when the measures came into effect, the Swedish regulatory body warned against them, stating that the SEK5,000 deposit limit would have a “marginal effect” on reducing the number of people gambling during the pandemic. The regulator also said that players would have fewer protection measures if they decided to gamble at an unlicensed site.

Sweden’s stakeholders will have until 23 November to share their opinions on the extension of the measures.

No evidence of problem gambling spike during coronavirus pandemic

The consultation period comes after Sweden’s state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel said in October, that during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic it did not see an increase in problem gambling. The operator did however note that players with existing issues gambled more.

Prior to the information from Svenska Spel, during Svenska Spel’s Independent Research Council’s annual research day, several other studies showed similar findings.

The consensus was that overall, Swedish consumers spent less during the early months of the pandemic but problem gambling levels remained the same.

Filip Lindner, a researcher at Karolinska Institutet, noted that the decline in gambling spend was not surprising due to a drop in sports betting activity as many sporting events around the world were cancelled. Linder also pointed out there was a shift from online sports betting players to online casino games.

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