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New gambling rules may benefit black market in Sweden

Sweden’s Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) has questioned the new player protection restrictions the government plans to introduce as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

Dispute surrounding Sweden’s proposed restrictions

Sweden’s plan to restrict online gambling has been received with mixed reactions. The social security minister Ardalan Shekarabi announced back in April that the new measures will set a weekly deposit limit of $495 (SEK5,000), as well as time limits for Swedish gamblers. The restrictions were introduced as a part of the country’s plan to increase player protection, while fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

The plan for restrictive measures’ purpose was to help gamblers at risk. However, the plan was proven a sore point for the industry’s giants. The Swedish operator association Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS) launched a petition which aims at rejecting the proposed measures. The petition was joined by 12 gaming operators so far, which represents almost half of the Swedish online gambling market, according to BOS secretary general Gustfaf Hoffstedt. NetEnt, William Hill, Kindred Group and Betsson are some of the companies that have already joined the petition.

Spelinspektionen stands for the online gambling operators

Sweden’s Gaming Authority has expressed doubt regarding the positive effect of the newly planned restrictions. The gambling regulator indicated that although they usually approve rules that enhance player protection, such measures shouldn’t be rushed, as they can have a negative effect on the market.

Reduced channelization would be one of the negative effects, Spelinspektionen observed, which is currently around the 75% mark instead of the 90% planned by the Swedish government.

Moreover, the Gaming Authority identified that a limit of $495 a week is too restrictive of an amount. Spelinspektionen also showed that the average loss per citizen is $310 (SEK3,043) for the whole year. 

Kindred Group CEO, Henrik Tjärnström noted:

We need to be careful about introducing regulations that move customers away from regulated gambling companies towards unlicensed sites where Swedish authorities have no ability whatsoever of ensuring a high consumer protection. This is a negative development for customers, for the licensed gambling companies, and for society as a whole.

Svenska Spel CEO, Patrik Hofbauer also commented on the matter:

Now, gambling addiction flags for people with risk behavior to seek beyond the licensed gaming market. This is a problem that is not solved by restrictions on the licensing market, but by the authorities taking the hard gloves against gaming companies that provide illegal gambling.
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