The Swedish Gambling Authority – Spelinspektionen – supported the reintroduction of temporary gambling liability measures in the country amid the increase registered in the number of coronavirus cases.
The local gambling regulatory body noted that in the light of the stricter infection control measures that were implemented by Sweden’s Government last week because of the current rapid spread of the Covid-19 infection the circumstances that brought the initial introduction of the temporary gambling liability measures is now considered to exist again. Spelinspektionen explained it now has no objections to the implementation of the aforementioned temporary measures by the Government but still shared it is still too early to make comments on the effects that each of those measures has had.
During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Swedish Government implemented certain changes to its online gambling policies, which included limits on the time local customers could spend gambling online, as well as a restriction on bonus offers that could be displayed to them. The online gambling limits are to be adopted once again because of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
These measures were temporarily ceased in November 2021. At the time when the Government did that, it also instructed the Swedish Gambling Authority to analyze and evaluate how the different forms of gambling and accessibility to them develop both in the shorter and in the longer term. Spelinspektionen was also ordered to consider proposing measures to enhance customer protection in the local gambling sector as part of the authorities’ efforts to tackle public health problems of Swedish citizens.
The aforementioned review is being conducted by the gambling regulator in collaboration with the Swedish Consumer Agency, the Swedish Public Health Agency, and the Swedish Enforcement Agency.
Tighter Gambling Restrictions to Be Rolled Out from February 7th to June 30th
The country’s gambling regulator has until March 15th, 2022 to submit a partial report on the first part of the assignment it was given by the Government – the one regarding the evaluation of the temporary gambling responsibility measures. It has until October 31st, 2023 to finalize the work on the assignment.
Earlier in January, the Swedish Ministry of Finance submitted a memorandum that called for the reintroduction of the temporary gambling liability measures on the local gambling sector as of February 7th, 2022. The Ministry proposed that the measures stay in place until the end of June and noted that they would be introduced only if it is considered absolutely necessary in terms of the current situation.
This time, however, the restrictions are set to be tighter than the ones lifted in November 2021. Previously, Swedes were allowed to deposit up to SEK5,000 a week, while this time the maximum deposit has been reduced to SEK4,000.
When it comes to bonus and time limits, they are likely to remain the same as the previous ones. Swedish players will have to set limits on playing time when they play at online casino platforms and ATMs, while gambling license holders will be allowed to offer their customers bonuses of up to SEK100.
The implementation of the restrictions once again made the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) urge the Government to reconsider its gaming consumer protection measures, after vocalizing its opposition to a new deposit limit for online casino sites. BOS also opposed the increasing restrictions on gambling advertising and said it could ask the Government to make a reclassification of gambling under a moderation advertising segment.
The Association has put the effectiveness of the restrictions under question, saying that the implementation of stricter measures only pushes local customers to start looking for offshore alternatives which pretty much makes the measures meaningless. Gustaf Hoffstedt, the BOS Secretary General, said that after the introduction of the deposit limits that had been a sharp increase in the number of gambling companies per individual player.
Both the country’s Government and its main gambling regulatory body, however, believe that the new measures are necessary to keep gambling-related harm as low as possible.