The Kindred Group has slammed the proposals to impose further restrictions on the Swedish gaming market, with the CEO Henrik Tjärnström warning that the measures would be a ‘step in the wrong direction’.
In a statement, Kindred expressed concern over a lack of ‘notable connection’ between the pandemic and rates of problem gambling. The operator also noted that ‘the government’s policy is the opposite of the one decided by the Swedish Parliament’.
”During these seven months that the restrictions have been in place, the Swedish government have not been taking any measures to determine the level of channelisation, they have not accounted for any measures against unlicensed operators in Sweden, and they cannot present any notable connections between the pandemic and increased problem gambling in Sweden at licensed Swedish operators,” said Tjärnström.
“What we can see is a lower channelisation and an increased activity at unlicensed operators with zero consumer protection. That is a step in the wrong direction, and it is not the gambling policy decided by the Swedish Parliament.”
Earlier this month, the Minister for Social Insurance, Ardalan Shekarabi, highlighted his concerns of ‘continued risks in the area of gambling’, confirming that the government has opened a consultation on extending the ‘temporary restrictions’ on the industry until 30 June 2021.
The proposals, which were submitted for consultation until 23 November 2020, included an extension to the SEK 5,000 deposit limit for games at online casinos as well as time limits on play and SEK 100 limit on bonus offers. The findings of the consultation are yet to be released.
Hitting back at the proposals, however, Kindred believes that the Swedish government has not taken any precautions to map the decreasing channelisation level, which the operator stated ‘is the most likely effect of the restrictions’.
The opinion submitted by the group recognised that the goal for the reregulation of gambling in Sweden ‘is at least 90% channelisation three years after the introduction, which will not be fulfilled’. This reform, said Kindred, ‘increasingly appears to be yet another of Swedish gambling policy’s many regulation failures’.
Furthermore, Kindred also highlighted that the government has not taken any measures to induce Swedish gambling customers to choose to gamble via licensed operators.
The statement added: “The government has two means to increase the share of gambling that are under Swedish control: to create fair conditions for gambling customers to choose to play at licensed operators and to make the access to play at unlicensed operators more difficult. The government does neither.”
Proposals introduced earlier in the year faced a barrage of criticism from both betting and gaming operators as well as the country’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen.
In July, Spelinspektionen cautioned against the restrictions, stating that the SEK 5,000 deposit limit would have a ‘marginal effect’ on reducing the number of players gambling during the pandemic.
In addition, it warned that players will have access to fewer consumer protection measures if they were to gamble via unlicensed operators – something which becomes more likely if deposit and time limits were imposed.