BOS Sweden casino

Operators in Sweden urge Shekarabi to rethink online casino restrictions

Members of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) have signed an open letter to Ardalan Shekarabi, Sweden’s Social Security Minister

The correspondence expresses concerns about new temporary online casino restrictions, which were announced last week. 

Players will be subjected to deposit limits and operators will have less room for manoeuvre with online bonuses. 

A number of signatures 

The letter from BOS, which is Sweden’s trading body for gambling, has a number of high-profile supporters. 

Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström, Betsson Chief Executive Pontus Lindwall and Therese Hillman of NetEnt are among those who have added their signatures. 

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson and  Gustaf Hagman of LeoVegas have also made their support clear. 

Operators are critical that they were not consulted prior to the changes. They also noted that they’re collaborating with authorities to address unregulated gambling. 

BOS’ letter said the following. 

“We operate in a digital world and have direct access to all relevant data needed to evaluate what measures can help strengthen the security of our players while offering attractive products. 

“The sad thing is that the government, with Ardalan Shekarabi at the forefront, does not want to talk to stakeholders like us, about how we can work together and, with the support of the insight we possess, develop a well-functioning Swedish gaming market.”  

Are the measures really helpful? 

The trading body was also unsure about claims that problem gambling will rise during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the association, the contrary is true and online gambling activity has actually dropped recently.

It also pointed to recent findings from Copenhagen Economics. According to a report published this week, channelisation rates are still falling. Sports betting channelisation reportedly stands at 80-85%, with online casino being lower at between 72 and 78%. In relation to this, the letter said the following. 

“The purpose of the re-regulation, which had broad support in Parliament, was to create a more sustainable and long-term gaming market. Now the minister is about to create a ‘wild west 2.0’ in the gaming market, and this is done in the name of consumer protection,” the signatories wrote. 

“For us, it is clear that Ardalan Shekarabi does not share our ambition to create a sustainable and safe gaming market as the latest proposal is the best advertisement for players to leave the licensed companies.” 

BOS also warned that companies could leave the market if they keep being subjected to stricter regulations. 

“Companies, regardless of industry, want to be where the customers are; if the customers leave, the companies will follow suit.

“The Swedish gaming market not only offers players security, it annually contributes billions in much needed tax revenue and investment in sports.  

“Month by month, the Swedish gaming market erodes and the risk that security, tax revenue and investment in society will be reduced grows. We wonder why Ardalan Shekarabi wants to undermine his own gambling regulation?”  

New restrictions

Players in Sweden will be subjected to the following, as part of the government’s new measures – which come into force from 1st June. 

  • Weekly deposit limits of 5,000 Swedish Krona; 
  • Online bonus limits of 100 Swedish Krona; 
  • Mandatory limits on casino playing time.

The regulations will last until at least the end of 2020. They were brought in to mitigate potential problem gambling, which may arise due to Covid-19.

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