Published
OnlineCasinoLegal & RegulatoryIndustry

Gambling operators vs the Swedish Government: A battle of wills

New regulation in Sweden is like old news. Gambling Insider itself has been so inundated with comment on Swedish regulatory proceedings, I very nearly did not write this article for fear of over-covering one market…

TugOfWar

Yet, while the reopening of casinos the world across – and particularly in the US – dominates gaming industry headlines from a positive sense, Sweden is by far the biggest topic from a regulatory standpoint.

So much so it leads this week’s GI Friday newsletter, which you can read for a summary of the latest comments and developments.

Operators such as Kindred Group and William Hill, and unions such as Branschföreningen för Onlinespel and the European Betting and Gaming Association have fervently opposed the Swedish Government’s stance on gaming regulation.

Betsson AB, too, was the subject of a 20m SEK ($2.2m) fine from the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) – and was not shy in expressing its surprise at the decision. Keep your eyes peeled for further reaction from the operator in Gambling Insider’s publications.

But while suppliers, operators, affiliates and gaming associations alike continue to criticise the Swedish Government and regulator, the opposing body stands firm.

Indeed, a battle of wills is ensuing as operators stick firmly to their party line that Sweden’s ever-increasing casino regulations are not evidence-based and will simply bolster the country’s black market.

And yet, just yesterday, Sweden’s social security minister Ardalan Shekarabi approved plans to introduce temporary restrictions for the nation’s online casino market – restrictions that have been much-maligned by the industry in recent weeks.

The new measures, designed to provide extra protection for players during the coronavirus pandemic, will be enforced from 2 July until the end of 2020, implementing an SEK 5,000 ($540) weekly deposit limit, with licensees only able to offer bonuses of up to SEK 100.

Shekarabi said: "As a result of the current pandemic, we see a mix of circumstances that together create great risks in the gaming sector.

"These need to be counteracted. With these measures, the Government will strengthen the protection of Swedish consumers."

Industry critics, of course, will take delight in such a decisive approach. Regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority have taken a very pro-industry, free-market stance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Gambling Commission in Great Britain, meanwhile, continues to draw criticism for not doing enough – despite also being lambasted by the industry for being overbearing.

As I wrote before, Scandinavia is carrying the flag and serving as somewhat of a testing board for stricter regulation right now.

Yet critics of government intervention in Sweden naturally remain plentiful. The Swedish Government stands accused of being more lenient to the sports betting and horseracing sectors due to having closer ties with those sections of the industry.

And even the SGA itself has questioned some of the Government’s policies in reports sent to Gambling Insider.

According to the regulator – which can hardly be accused of taking a pro-industry stance generally – betting turnover decreased 6% year-on-year in March and 5% in April.

This immediately calls into question the evidence behind the Government’s decision making, while the SGA also went a step further. The new restrictions may only have a marginal effect on player protection, says the SGA, with the timeline not realistic enough for conditions to be met by July.

Interestingly, the SGA actually believes the SEK 5,000 limit itself doesn’t go far enough in helping gamblers, as the figure is a "relatively high amount in itself" and will only affect big-money players.

Proponents will argue helping "big-money" players will address VIP concerns and assist those who truly need it.

Operators, though, will only suffer further frustration when reading that even the SGA itself has reservations about the Government’s new policies.

If the Swedish Government isn’t heeding their warnings, do Swedish operators need to change tact?

A better question is how could they change tact? In this battle of wills, there is little perhaps little else they can do.


Casino News Sponsor
Premium+ Connections
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
Premium
 
 
Premium
 
Premium Connections
Consultancy
Executive Profiles
Seminole Hard Rock Support Services
Seminole Hard Rock Support Services
Metropolitan Gaming
Holland Casino
Nederlandse Loterij
Follow Us

Facing Facts: Q1 2024 analysis from across the globe

Gambling Insider tracks the Q1 results of operators across t...

Taking Stock: A guide to sports betting operator and supplier prices

Gambling Insider tracks sports betting operator and supplier...

Tailor-made: The power of personalisation in the modern gaming industry

With insights from GR8 Tech, Greentube and the Oregon Lotter...

Sportradar and the Taiwan Sports Lottery: More offerings, greater efficiency

Danny Fok, VP of Strategic Projects at Sportradar, speaks al...