The Ministry of Finance in Sweden claim that online gaming has experienced a boom as a consequence of the pandemic and have prompted to extend restrictions on the online market to June 30, 2021 in bid to protect consumers. However, will this truly be effective?
Temporary restrictions on the online gambling market were introduced in Sweden on July 2nd this year in response to the alleged surge in problem gaming during the spring.
Now the proposed extension to June 30th 2021 will include a weekly deposit limit of SEK 5,000, and bonus offers are limited to a maximum of 100 SEK. The memorandum has been submitted for amendments until November 23.
However, neither The Swedish Gambling Authority or other authorities found proof to the claim including scientific studies conducted by Frontiers who found a decrease in gambling activity and saw no increase in problem gambling for Sweden. The paper noted:
Total gambling activity decreased by 13.29% during the first phase of the outbreak compared to forecast. Analyses of online gambling data revealed that although betting decreased substantially in synchrony with a slight increase in online casino gambling, there was no increase in likely problematic, high-intensity gambling.
Psychiatrist Anders C. Håkansson, on the contrary, reported that Swedish gamblers did bet more during the lockdown in his study.
When the government of Sweden announced the memorandum, the initiative received scepticism from key players in the industry. The Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) had noted that an overregulated industry could create an unsuitable gaming experience for operators and cause players to shift to unregulated operators; leaving the customer unprotected.
Worryingly, 7 out of 10 who seek help from problem gambling in Sweden while having banned themselves from playing breaks, continue to do so.
Ultimately, the Swedish government has failed to protect its vulnerable players as the extended restrictions won’t effectively address the issue, and vulnerable players will lean towards unlicenced companies that haven't been persecuted or fined since 1 January 2019.
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