Sweden –The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has called out the online casino restrictions that will be enforced in Sweden next month. The EGBA says this is “not evidence-led” and even warned that it may do more harm than good for Swedish player protection.
The restrictions, proposed by Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi, would impose an SEK 5,000 ($495) mandatory weekly deposit limit as well as an SEK 100 cap on bonuses starting on June 1 up until the end of the year.
According to Maarten Haijer, EGBA secretary general, the restrictions could end up doing more harm than good.
“We understand that politicians seek to reassure and protect their citizens during these difficult times, but the proposed gambling restrictions could actually harm more customers than they protect,” Haijer said. “Many Swedes are already gambling on unlicensed websites and these restrictions will make unlicensed websites—which don’t apply any limits—even more attractive to them,” he added.
The EGBA insisted that the regulations were not “evidence-led” and that to effectively prevent problem gambling during the lockdown period, more focus should be placed on at-risk customers. The association quoted data from Denmark, Belgium, and Great Britain, as well as H2’s global gambling predictions, all of which it insists proved online gambling has “substantially” decreased.
“Rather than one-size-fits-all restrictions, which will have no effect on the majority of customers and jeopardize consumer protection for those they seek to protect, EGBA supports targeted measures, including tailored interventions, to protect those at risk of problem gambling at this time,” it said.
The EGBA agrees with the Spelinspektionen’s (Sweden’s Gaming Authority) views on the rules, which the regulator believes could negatively affect channelization towards the licensed market in Sweden.
“The deposit limit could, as Spelinspektionen rightly warn, drive high-spending players towards unlicensed websites which could undermine their consumer protection—these websites are readily available, easy to access and do not apply any limits or responsible gambling measures, including the country’s Spelpaus self-exclusion scheme,” the EGBA warns.
Haijer ended his statement by saying that top-down regulation is hardly the best way to resolve problem gambling issues.
“We must remember gambling is a human behavior, consumers will always make their own choices and top-down regulation rarely works. In this case, it could have detrimental or counterproductive effects by pushing more gambling onto unregulated websites.”