Swedish government scraps reintroduction of online casino restrictions

The Swedish government’s plans to re-impose temporary restrictions on online casino in the country on 7 February have been scrapped, prompting relief from the betting sector. 

Planned restrictions would last until the end of June, and include all temporary measures introduced last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an SEK 4,000 deposit limit – initially SEK 5,000 before being lowered by Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi.

Additionally, It would also be mandatory for players to set limits on playing time when gambling at online casinos and ATMs, with bonuses offered by licensees also only able to amount to a maximum of SEK 100.

The decision to reimplement the measures – first lifted on 14 November – was a reaction to the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Sweden, with authority stating the reintroduction would occur “if it is deemed necessary in view of the current situation”.

Spelinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Inspectorate, stated it had “no objections” to the reintroduction of temporary gaming liability measures in Sweden in response to a rise in coronavirus infections. However, the Swedish Trade Associaton for Online Gambling (BOS) was less welcoming, particularly condemning the lowering of deposit limits. 

Responding to the update, Gustaf Hoffstedt, BOS Secretary General, said: It is a wise and well-balanced decision that the government has made. Partly based on the general development of the pandemic. Partly, and above all, because precisely these restrictions would not achieve their purpose of protecting public health. 

“We are in favour of strong regulation of the gaming market, and a prerequisite for this is that the intention with various reforms can also be expected to have the intended effect. That was not the case with the COVID restrictions, and it is therefore welcome that they are withdrawn.”

However, Minister Shekarabi is still moving forward with some reforms to the betting and gaming space in Sweden, having drafted a suite of new safer gambling and consumer protection proposals.

Endorsed by the government, the measures include mandatory licensing for third-party games and software providers servicing Swedish licensed operators and a requirement for operators to disclose all information on their commercial activities as a licence duty.

Additionally, the Minister has called for a “requirement for the moderation of casino games” and a “ban on the promotion of illegal gambling and an extended ban on the promotion of unlicensed gambling”.

The reforms have been forwarded to Sweden’s Law Council that will undertake a legislative review, upon which the proposed changes are expected to take effect on 1 January 2023.

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