BOS general secretary: Regulatory interference could be hampering fair competition in Sweden

By Iqbal Johal

New measures in Sweden to deal with the coronavirus pandemic are not based on evidence and will push channelisation rates as low as they were before re-regulation, according to a trade association.

In April, minister for social security Ardalan Shekarabi announced temporary measures aimed at player safety during the pandemic, including weekly deposit limits of SEK 5,000 ($537), but has since excluded horseracing and sports betting from restrictions.

But the general secretary for Swedish online gambling trade association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) believes the measures will have the opposite effect on the Swedish market.

Gustaf Hoffstedt told Gambling Insider: "The biggest fear with these restrictions is it will drive players to the black market. We presented an independent channelisation estimation made by Copenhagen Economics which showed channelisation in Sweden is at 80-85%.

"What was even more troublesome was that estimation showed online casino has channelisation of 75% and still dropping. This was prior to the new measures.

"We expect channelisation to drop even further, maybe as low as the figure before re-regulation.

"Sweden re-regulated for the very reason that channelisation was very low and, 18 months later, the Government is taking measures it seems will push punters outside of the licensing system; and we will be back to the very situation we faced two years ago."

Hoffstedt also questioned the Government's temporary measures, to be introduced in July, which are based on the notion consumers have shifted to online casino and sports betting has significantly dropped.

However, the BOS general secretary said figures from the Swedish Tax Authority shows horseracing betting has increased by up to 40%, while there is no proof online casino has risen.

The Government has representation on the board of horseracing operator ATG and state-owned operator Svenska Spel.

Hoffstedt added: "It is obvious the revised restrictions are not connected to any kind of customer protection measure, judging by the statistics.

"I can at least note the gambling verticals that are excluded from the measures are usually the main products from operators with very close connections with the Government.

"It comes as no surprise to me horseracing and sports betting products are excluded from the responsible gambling measures. I think we are getting closer to a situation when we have to face the real reason may be interference, when it comes to fair competition regarding gambling in Sweden.”


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