The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has warned that new temporary restrictions on online gambling in Sweden could do more harm consumer protection efforts rather than protecting players.
Yesterday (23 April), Sweden’s Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi announced a number of measures to limit gambling-related harm during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Among this will see a SEK5,000 (£402/€460/$497) mandatory weekly deposit and a SEK100 cap on bonus offers implemented from 1 June until the end of 2020, as well as limits on playing time. The government also said it is looking at return-to-player (RTP) restrictions.
However, EGBA said that while it understands the new proposals are aimed at enhancing consumer protection, it is concerned the measures could instead cause significant harm.
It said both the type and nature of the restrictions mean they are not targeted, but could instead encourage players to gamble with unregulated websites. Unlicensed sites targeting Swedish players would not adhere to the new restrictions – and were under no obligation to implement any other consumer protection measures – the association warned.
In addition, EGBA said that as the measures would only take effect from 1 June – over a month away – it questioned how effective they would actually be, considering this delay.
“In Sweden, gambling advertising spending is down and we haven’t seen evidence that average customer spend is up,” EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said. “Even so, there is no compelling evidence that arbitrary restrictions on customer spend have a positive effect on safer gambling.
“The measures could actually harm more customers than they protect because customers can easily find black market websites where the restrictions, and any other social protections, do not apply.”