Gambling trade body BOS scored a big win after the Swedish government decided against implementing COVID-19-based restrictions on online casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Pressure pays off
Pressure from the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, known locally as Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), seems to have paid off after the government tossed plans for online casino restrictions.
a proposed online slots deposit cap of SEK4,000 ($423)
Announced Thursday, the government’s decision does away with a proposed online slots deposit cap of SEK4,000 ($423), and an SEK100 ($10.59) limit on sign-up bonuses. BOS took to Twitter to welcome the decision on the measures, which officials initially intended to introduce on February 7:
The result marks an important victory for BOS, who pulled no punches in its criticism of the government’s plans, warning earlier this month that imposing the restrictions would remove “a cornerstone of Swedish consumer protection in the gaming law.”
On Thursday, BOS secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt met with Sweden’s state secretary Alejandro Firpo to “show his gratitude” for the decision.
Questioning the motive
Government officials again based their plans for new restrictions on a rise in COVID-19 cases across the nation.
The Swedish government first played this card to justify a mandatory online casino deposit cap of SEK5,000 ($548.76) in July 2020. BOS denied Minister of Social Insurance Ardalan Shekarabi’s claim that online gambling increased during the pandemic, but its warnings went unheeded last time round.
COVID-19 cases in Sweden are currently the highest they have ever been, according to Reuters. In a BOS news release, however, Hoffstedt said that imposing the pandemic-influenced restrictions on online gambling “would not achieve their purpose of protecting public health.”
BOS wasn’t the only voice to criticize the proposed caps earlier this month. Online casino giant Kindred called the plans “ill-founded,” also voicing its concerns on Twitter:
Shekarabi’s latest announcement
While Shekarabi may have lost this battle, on Wednesday he announced a raft of new safer gambling proposals, from imposing a gaming software license on suppliers, to setting new advertising restrictions.
mandatory licensing for gaming suppliers operating in Sweden
A mandatory licensing for gaming suppliers operating in Sweden will come into effect January 1, 2023. This dovetails with the government’s existing ban on unlicensed gambling, along with a new proposal tabled Wednesday that seeks to ban the promotion of illegal betting.
The ministry also mooted “stricter requirements for moderation” within the sphere of gambling marketing, with the intention of protecting underage bettors and those prone to gambling harms from exposure to advertising.