Sweden to remove deposit cap on 14 November, but plans to add new measures

| By Marese O'Hagan
Sweden's government has announced that Sweden's controversial online gambling restrictions - including a SEK5000 (£424/€491/$600) monthly deposit cap for online casino - will end as planned on 14 November.

However, the government called upon gambling regulator Spelinspektionen to “evaluate” the measures that were put in place, as well as propose new measures to strengthen player protection.

“Turnover in the gaming market has increased and online gaming has probably benefited from changed consumption patterns since the reregulation,” said Ardalan Shekarabi, minister of social insurance.

“There is a risk that this has led to a long-term behavioral change with increased gambling. This is a development that should be followed up to see if there is a need for further measures.”

Spelinspektionen must submit a report evaluating the temporary measures by 15 March 2022, with the deadline for the remainder of the report stipulated for 31 October 2023.

Ann-Sofie Olsson, acting secretary general at Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), Sweden’s trade association for online gambling expressed concerns about the inconsistency operators have faced due to the restrictions, but praised the decision to lift the cap.

“We welcome this decision,” said Olsson. “But we cannot stress enough that a sustainable regulated gaming market needs long-term and consistent, not temporary regulations.”

“BOS is therefore looking forward to the dialogue that will come from the assignment the government has given to the Swedish Gambling Inspection, where the temporary measures will be evaluated,” continued Olssen.

“With knowledge, facts and cooperation we want to contribute to the recent comprehensive re-regulation of the Swedish gambling market, being successful and sustainable.”

The temporary restrictions first took effect in June 2020. They included an SEK5,000 deposit cap on online casino, along with an SEK100 limit on bonuses. At the time, they were set to last until the end of 2020.

The 14 November date was an extension put in place in May this year, after the date was previously extended to June 2021.

When he announced the second extension, Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for social security, spoke of how the effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic had caused financial worry for many Swedes.

“In the wake of the pandemic, we see continued risks in the field of gambling, which means that we need to act to reduce the risks for vulnerable consumers,” said Shekarabi in November 2020.

“The situation is very serious.”

The decision to introduce restrictions proved contentious. A consultation held on the matter saw concerns raised by many groups.

Spelinspektionen suggested that the restrictions would have only a “marginal effect” on player protection measures for operators, as well as arguing that the measures could benefit the black market.

Spelinspektionen also called the SEK5,000 deposit limit “relatively high”.

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