Sweden Proposes Extending Deposit & Bonus Restrictions
Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has proposed extending the introduced restrictions on online casino and bonus restrictions until November. Trade association BOS has called the notion “provocative”.
The Ministry of Finance in Sweden has recommended that the temporary Covid-19 restrictions that have been placed on online casino deposit amounts and bonuses should be extending until November at the earliest.
The measures that restrict deposits at online casino sites to SEK5,000 (£480) and a bonus cap of SEK100 (£8.58) were initially introduced during the country’s lockdown had been due to expire in June this year. However, with a surge of cases in the country, the Ministry of Finance suggests a continuation of restrictions until at least 14 November.
The Swedish Minister for Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi said: “The current situation entails great risks for consumers in the gaming market. We, therefore, need to act to reduce the risks for the most vulnerable consumers.”
The restrictions placed on the industry have been met with criticism from online casino operators who are active in the Swedish market. Many are claiming that the measures are counteractive and that customers are turning to black-market operators who don’t offer the same levels of consumer protection as licenced and regulated operators.
Betsson, LeoVegas, Kindred Group and Videoslots are among the operators who have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the measures. Videoslots recently issued a legal challenge over the new measures in the Swedish courts; this action is still ongoing.
In a report, the Swedish Agency for Public Management found that at 85%, the overall gambling channelisation rate to licensed operators had remained at roughly the same level of 85% since the restrictions had come into place. However, when the individual verticals’ data are examined, online casino channelisation had shrunk to 75%.
The trade association BOS which represents operators in the region has hit out at the proposals. BOS CEO Gustaf Hoffstedt said: “I have previously stated that there is nothing as lasting as a political promise of something temporary.
“The government seems unaware that their own expert authority, the Swedish Agency for Public Management, stated that the leakage from the Swedish gaming market to the unregulated gaming market is alarmingly high. “The leakage for online casinos is particularly high, where as much as every fourth gaming krona is played outside of the Swedish-licensed market.
“To extend restrictions that are disapproved by gaming consumers is to ask for continued problems for the channeling into the licensed market when it comes to online casinos.
“Thus, Swedish gaming consumers will lose out on the consumer protection that the Swedish parliament has decided will apply in our country.
“It is provocative that the Swedish government, in a rhetoric about caring for the consumer, in practice does the opposite,” Hoffstedt said.
Sweden currently has Europe’s highest number of new coronavirus infections per head over the last seven days. The country had initially decided against strict Covid-19 measures, preferring to allow residents to make behavioural changes to restrict the spread of the virus and leave retail and social establishments open.
Although this model had previously been championed by anti-lockdown campaigners here in the UK, the country has seen a surge of cases, and restrictions are being introduced. The seven-day average of new cases in the country stands at 625, much higher than 521 in Poland, 491 in France, 430 in the Netherlands, 237 in Italy and 208 in Germany.
The country is also faring much worse than neighbouring countries, with Finland having an average of 65 per million, Denmark 111 per million and Norway at 132 cases per million people.