Sweden gambling operators oppose Government’s proposal to limit deposits, spending

Sweden gambling operators oppose Government’s proposal to limit deposits, spending

Weighing in on the Swedish government’s proposal to ruthlessly limit online casino deposits and spending, gambling operators have argued that further regulations could not be justified at amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi recently announced a proposal to impose an online gambling deposit limit of SEK5K (US$500) per week, along with loss limits and a limit on bonus offers of SEK100 for the remaining part of the current year. The government had also invited stakeholders to submit their suggestions on the proposed changes. The proposed changes are part of the government’s efforts to minimize COVID-19 pandemic-related excess.

Patrik Hofbauer, chief executive of state-run operator Svenska Spel, opposed the proposal, stressing that he did not see any direct rise in risk gambling since the notorious corona virus hit economies across the world.

However, Patrik Hofbauer tabled an alternative three-step plan to protect gamblers from any harm in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed that if the government thought that online casinos were the problem, then the proposed changes should be applied only to online casino products and not to other verticals of the industry. Hofbauer also urged the government to follow the advice of gambling addiction researchers who say limits of losses are more effective than limits of deposits.

He also suggested that the government should look outside the gaming world and make it compulsory for financial firms to verify customers’ total debt before offering any kind of fast loans or credit.

Separately, BOS (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel), which represents licensed online gambling operators in Sweden, has also opposed the government’s proposed changes, arguiing that the government already has tools to regulate the Swedish gaming market but it never used them.

Commenting on the proposed changes, BOS said in written statement, “The state has essentially already had these tools at their disposal ever since the re-regulation of the Swedish gaming market, and that their effect has so far been absent.”

According to BOS, prior to the launch of the country’s regulated online market in January 2019, most of the firms that served punters were able to do that with licenses issued in another European Union (EU) member state. Presently, most of the unauthorized online casinos targeting Swedish customers are licensed in Curaçao along with other non-EU jurisdictions where consumer protection is very deficient.

Gambling operators have also argued that the stats released by the Swedish Tax Agency showing a 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase in online casino revenue during the first quarter of 2020 are just misleading.