BOS criticises Swedish online casino deposit limits

The Swedish government has moved to introduce a deposit limit for online casino operators, with the weekly limit set to be lowered from SEK 5,000 to SEK 4,000.

Although acknowledging that the design for the limits is set to be the same as the model adopted during 2021, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) has maintained criticism of the political proposals.

The proposed changes are now out for consultation, with a potential start date for this period on 7 February and an end date on 30 June, and were put forward by the country’s Ardalan Shekarabi, the governmental Health Minister who has long been at loggerheads with the gambling space.

A deposit limit of SEK 5,000 was first implemented on 1 June, along with a SEK 100 cap on bonus offers, in the midst of the country’s national COVID-19 lockdown which the aforementioned Minister believed created a ‘dangerous cocktail’ increasing the risk of gambling addiction.

Commenting on lowering of the spend limits to SEK 4,000 Gustaf Hoffstedt, BOS Secretary General, said: “As the system is designed, it leads to players who want to play for more money than the proposed limit to start up new gaming accounts with new gaming companies.

“Before the deposit limits, you played with one or two gaming companies, but after the introduction of the limits, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of gaming companies per individual player. 

“Thus, the statutory duty of care, which aims for the gaming company to acquire an overall picture of gaming behavior and offer support to risk players, is lost.”

Minister Shekarabi’s views and actions have garnered criticism from the gambling for much of the past 12 months, particularly concerning low channelisation on the Swedish gambling market.

Although online casino restrictions came to an end on 14 November as Sweden eased out of COVID lockdowns, Shekarabi has tasked the Spelinspektionen – Sweden’s gambling inspectorate – with evaluating the temporary online gambling safeguards as a condition of the lifting of measures.

Hoffstedt continued: “When gambling becomes as fragmented as it becomes with deposit limits, no individual gaming company can capture risky gaming behaviour, and thus a cornerstone of Swedish consumer protection in the gaming law is lost. We call on the government to rethink and safeguard consumer protection in the Swedish gaming market.”

In addition to deposit limits, BOS has also maintained opposition to increasingly strict controls on betting and gaming advertising, describing a proposed measure urging the government to reclassify gambling under a ‘special moderation’ advertising segment – forcing gambling to observe the same requirements as Sweden’s tough rules on alcohol advertising – as ‘illogical’. 

A review of advertising standards had been proposed by the Gambling Market Inquiry led by Social Democrat MP Anna-Lena Sörenson, who was charged with evaluating the marketplace following its first-year post re-regulation in 2019.

“This is another proposal from the Government that plays straight into the hands of unlicensed gaming companies in Sweden,” Hoffstedt remarked at the time.

“The trump card of licensed gaming companies has been the opportunity to market themselves and thus channel gaming consumers into the safe Swedish licensed system.”

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