Sweden proposes extending Covid-19 deposit cap until November

| By Robert Fletcher
The Swedish government has put forward proposals to extend novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions on the country’s online gambling industry, including an SEK5,000 monthly deposit limit, until 14 November.
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The measures were put in place last July and although the regulations were only intended to last until the end of 2020, they have been extended on a number of occasions, the most recent being until June 2021.

However, with concerns over the current high rate of Covid-19 in the country, the government has proposed keeping the restrictions until the winter.

“We see that the spread of Covid-19 is still high in Sweden, the current situation entails great risks for consumers in the gaming market,” Swedish Minister of Social Insurance Ardalan Shekarabi said.

“We therefore need to act to reduce the risks for the most vulnerable consumers.”

Aside from the SEK5,000 monthly deposit limit, the memorandum put forward by the government also includes measures making it mandatory for players to set limits on playing time with online casinos and on gaming machines.

Operators are also only able to offer bonuses of up to SEK100 for both online casinos and gaming machines under current rules.

The proposed memorandum will remain open for consultation until 3 May.

However, Swedish online industry association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) has hit out at the proposals, with its chair Gustaf Hoffstedt saying that any extension will lead to more flow of consumers to unlicensed operators.

Last week, a report from Sweden’s State Treasury found 85% of gambling in the country during 2020 took place with operators licensed in Sweden, a decrease from the reported figure in 2019.

“The government seems unaware that their own expert authority, the Swedish Agency for Public Management, just over a week ago stated that the leakage from the Swedish gaming market to the unregulated gaming market is alarmingly high,” Hoffstedt said.

“The leakage for online casinos is particularly high, where as much as every fourth gaming krona is played outside the Swedish licensed market.

 “To extend restrictions that are disapproved by gaming consumers is to ask for continued problems for the channelling into the licensed market when it comes to online casinos.”

Hoffstedt said any regulations that could lead to more leakage of players to such unregulated sites put player safety at risk, with these operators not offering the same protections as licensed websites.

“It is provocative that the Swedish government in a rhetoric about caring for the consumer in practice does the opposite and hurts the Swedish gaming license market with its strong consumer protection,” Hoffstedt said.

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