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Spelinspektionen voices support for extended casino controls

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has come out in favour of the country’s controversial temporary gambling regulations - including a SEK5,000 (£437/€489/$580) deposit cap on online casino - being extended into 2021.

In its response to a government consultation on the plan to keep the measures in place until June 2021, the regulator pointed out that the virus remained widespread.

As circumstances were similar to those in the earlier stages of the pandemic when the cap was introduced, keeping the controls in place made sense, it said.

“The circumstances that formed the basis for the introduction of the rule can be assumed to remain for a longer period of time,” it said. “Spelinspektionen therefore considers it reasonable that the period of validity be extended.”

The regulator added that the extension of the limit would not mean that it would be required to revoke licences of operators who stopped operating while it was in effect. 

Under Section 14 of the Swedish Gaming Act, Spelinspektionen may revoke an operator’s licence if it has not been active for six months. This led to concerns that operators who could not afford to do business with the cap in place would lose their license if it remained in place until 2021.

However, Spelinspektionen pointed out that the Act did not say that it was required to revoke the licenses of an operator who did not do business for this period.

“Spelinspektionen would like to emphasize that the requirement for revocation after six months according to Section 14 of the Gaming Act is not absolute,” it said. “According to the second paragraph, a warning can be issued instead if it is sufficient.”

The deposit cap – introduced by Minister for Health and Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi – has been extremely controversial since its proposal in April this year, when it was originally intended to cover all gambling products. 

However after criticism from groups including former horse racing monopoly AB Trav och Galopp (ATG), it was instead imposed only upon online casino and land-based slots.

Spelinspektionen previously argued that the limit was impossible to enforce across all operators.

Operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), meanwhile, has claimed the measures have created “chaos”, as businesses found interpretation of the rules unclear. In addition, it argued the rules benefited the unlicensed market, a point which Spelinspektionen has also argued.

BOS also criticised the extension of the measure, arguing its implementation was based on the “erroneous claim that online casino would increase” as the country dealt with the virus and that it would move more players to unlicensed sites.

Stakeholders have until 23 November to share their thoughts on the extension.

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