Sweden’s BOS blasts extension of online casino controls

| By Robert Fletcher
Swedish operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) has hit out at the government’s proposals to extend temporary controls for online casino until June 2021, and called for the measures to be withdrawn.
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The government’s memorandum sets out plans to extend the controls in order to help protect players during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, with positive cases continuing to rise in the country.

Temporary controls were imposed from 2 July and were due to run until the end of the year, with Swedish players facing a range restrictions such as a SEK5,000 (£439.20/€490.00/$580.30) weekly deposit limit.

Other measures include users having to set limits on playing time when playing online casino games or slot machines, while all igaming bonuses are currently limited to SEK100.

Despite the government saying this would further reduce the risks for vulnerable consumers, the BOS has criticised the proposals, noting how the measures were originally introduced of an expected spike in online casino gambling during the Covid-19 pandemic, something it said did not occur.

“Online casinos stood still, and sports betting decreased dramatically due to cancelled matches; instead, it was games on horses that increased dramatically,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said.

“This was known to all players in the gaming market, such as (Swedish regulator) Spelinspektionen, us and the government, but unfortunately the government persisted in the erroneous claim that online casinos would have increased and special restrictions were therefore called for that form of gaming.”

BOS, which has been opposed to the measures since they were first proposed in April, said the consequences of extending such restrictions would have two major, negative impacts.

First, high-volume players would move between different operators to avoid the deposit limit measure, which would make it difficult for operators to monitor the player’s behaviour.

Secondly, BOS said the restrictions could force players to offshore operators that do not hold a licence in Sweden and would therefore not be required to follow the Covid-19 measures.

“Even before the first restrictions were introduced this summer, the leakage from the Swedish licensing system was 25% for online casinos,” Hoffstedt  said.

What the leak is today and what will happen to the extended restriction is a scary thought.

“The government throws Swedish gaming consumers out of the licensing system and into a market where consumer protection is zero.”

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