The deposit limits that have been implemented at Swedish casinos for over a year are set to be removed in November.
The government-enforced restrictions will be lifted on November 14, and operators will have the freedom to remove all limits placed upon their players or instead choose to voluntary set their own.
Brought in back in July 2020, Swedish brands have enforced a mandatory 5,000 SEK limit on weekly deposits – that equates to around £425. In addition, any bonuses offered to new and existing customers were capped at 100 SEK….or £8.50. Players also had to set their own time limits for each gaming session they enjoyed.
The measures were reviewed on a quarterly basis, but each time the Swedish authorities – led by the social securities minister Ardalan Shekarabi – looked at whether the time was right to lift the restrictions, it was decided to leave them in place.
It’s a process that has frustrated Branschforeningen for Onlinespel, or BOS as they are thankfully known. The trade body has been critical of the government’s inaction on the matter, and claimed that the limits have prevented the regulated market from reaching its 90% channelisation target.
There were also concerns that the restrictions would direct players towards unlicensed and black market operators, which even the Spelinspektionen – the gambling industry inspection agency – agreed with.
A statement from BOS, reflecting on the limits being lifted, read: “This is a good message that the government has now given. We cannot stress enough that a sustainable regulated gaming market needs long-term and consistent, not temporary regulations.
“It is worrying whether fragile players are driven straight into the arms of players who are outside the licensing system, and who market themselves by pointing to the lack of both gaming responsibility measures and other consumer protection.”
Could More Regulations Follow?
While licensed operators might be breathing a sigh of relief now that the restrictions have been lifted, it may only be a temporary stay of execution.
Government officials have been working on the proposals outlined in the Gambling Market Inquiry, which were submitted to the national legislature Riksdag and outline a number of ideas to improve the integrity of the sector.
Significant changes in the sector are expected as a result, which would include tighter controls on gambling firms’ advertising and a more stringent licensing regime for game developers and software firms.
The Spelinspektionen will also be handed extra powers to clamp down on money laundering and unlicensed operators as Swedish ministers look to close the door on the black market that has ravaged the industry.
By March 2022, the inspectorate will have delivered their first review of the proposals, and by October 2023 Swedish casinos will know what new restrictions are to be introduced.
Shekarabi is fully behind the need for new legislative measures. “Turnover in the gaming market has increased, and online gaming has probably benefitted from changed consumption patterns since the re-regulation,” he said.
“There is a risk that this has led to a long-term behavioural change with increased gambling. This is a development that should be followed up to see if there is a need for further measures.”