EGBA: Regulatory restrictions during pandemic “could do more harm than good”

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has published a statement arguing that introducing temporary regulatory measures during the COVID-19 pandemic could increase the popularity of illegal sites.

Regulation

In the statement featured on the EGBA website, Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA, said that although he understands the good intentions behind such measures “the majority of restrictions introduced are not evidence-based.”

In contrast to pre-COVID concerns, the EGBA found that data during the pandemic has shown a significant decline in online gambling during lockdowns – mainly due to the cancellation of major sports.

In Belgium there has been a 38% decline in traffic to licensed gambling sites, in Denmark there has been a 60% drop and in Sweden there has been a 6% fall.

Haijer concluded: “One-size-fits-all restrictions, like advertising restrictions or blanket deposit limits, are not sufficiently targeted to address those customers who actually need help, but rather will jeopardise their consumer protection by making unlicensed websites more attractive to them, compared to licensed ones.

“We must remember that gambling is human behaviour, consumers will always make their own choices and effective regulation needs to be based on what works well, not what makes good headlines.”

Nine CEOs from across the Swedish gambling industry have also come out in opposition of the Swedish Government's plans for temporary regulatory measures during the pandemic. 

Ponuts Lindwall, CEO of Betsson, and Ulrik Bengtsson, Group CEO of William Hill, were both among executives behind the statement which was published on the Branschföreningen för Onlinespel website.

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