Sweden: legal form annoys the gambling industry
The joy was great when Sweden was just opening its gambling market opened a few months ago. So far, however, this opening has not really turned out to be a great success story. Again and again there are discussions between companies and politicians. Due to the sometimes extremely strict regulations and specifications, even companies based in Sweden have recently withdrawn from the market. Anyone who is still there is currently annoyed again. Namely about the regulatory chaos in a new gambling reform. This was initially approved, but then withdrawn in parts. And now almost all private companies feel they have been duped once again.
Tougher restrictions on online gambling
The Swedish government and the gambling industry have not really harmonized yet. This is shown once again by a current debate. Like all other countries, Sweden was badly surprised by the Covid 19 pandemic. With people spending significantly more time in their own homes due to the virus, one concern for the government was that more people would turn to gambling. For this reason one wanted to take countermeasures. At the end of April, politicians announced thata new gambling law will apply from July 2nd. Found here: Reforms to betting limits and bonus restrictions at all online gambling operators.
What was actually considered a done deal has now been partially revised. Swedish Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi stated that the tightening of the laws should not apply to all online businesses. Only online casinos are affected. TheOnline sports betting providers would be spared from the reform.
Deposits and bonus values limited
The legal reform specifically provides for a limitation of weekly deposits and bonus values in online casinos. In the future, players should bemaximum deposits of 5,000 SEK per week. This corresponds to a sum of around 460 euros. The restriction on bonus offers is significantly stronger. According to this, the players are allowedBonus offers of a maximum of 100 SEK – the equivalent of a little less than ten euros. In this context, the statement that the restrictions are intended to influence consumer behavior during and after the Corona crisis causes anger. According to the Swedish online gambling industry association, reality would show a very different side.
The number of Swedish players in online casinos has not increased since the beginning of the pandemic. This would be confirmed by official statistics from the Swedish tax authorities. In addition, a increase in sales among providers of horse betting can be seen. Here the companies would have generated around 37 percent more sales between March and April. It is therefore not entirely understandable for the industry why the online casinos are subject to these rules, but not the providers of horse betting.
Accusation from the industry: Government protects state providers
The accusation from the industry association: With the new reforms, politicians don't want to keep the players and their gaming behavior in order, but much more the Protect state gambling companies. After all, for example,the state horse racing company Ab Trav Och Galopp (ATG) would have benefited from the sales increases. Exactly that provider, incidentally the driving force of the Swedish horse betting market, would now be spared from the reform. Gustaf Hoffstedt, the chairman of the association, criticizes:
“It is obvious that the government's actions have nothing to do with player protection, despite the rhetoric used to suggest it. It is much more about giving advantages to the gambling companies that are closely linked to the government. For example, the horse betting provider ATG, whose board members are mostly appointed by the government.”
But that's not all. Hoffstedt also stated thatthe government does not seem to care that it is jeopardizing measures to channel players into the legal gambling markets. Thus, Sweden would take a step back, especially in the area of player protection.
Trouble between industry and politics again and again
Such sharp rhetoric is astounding even by Swedish standards. However, the debates about different views between politics and industry are not. Ever since the liberalization and opening of the market, it has been shown again and againthat both sides often have different opinions. The authorities often seem overwhelmed by the new market, which in turn leads to quick regulatory decisions. And they are by no means always beneficial. In the recent past, several gambling companies have already turned their backs on the Swedish market after a short time.
The reasons were almost always the same. In the beginning people thought a lot about the liberalisation,but the measures taken are meanwhile much too strict. For this reason, numerous corporations now prefer to focus on other, much more profitable markets. The current debate about the restriction of online gambling offers should also not contribute to the mood among companies improving much. In fact, it doesn't seem impossible that other suppliers will turn their backs on the Swedish market in the coming months and years.