Swedish gambling regulator BOS has called for the country’s government to end temporary restrictions on the gambling industry, following criticism of the constraints by the Constitutional Committee of the Riksdag.
The temporary measures, aimed at ‘particularly risky forms of gambling’, first came into force on 2 July 2020. They have been extended several times and are currently set to run until 14 November 2021.
Criticising Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi’s basis for implementing the measures, the Constitutional Committee – Sweden’s highest decision-making authority – said that the suggestion that gambling at online casinos would increase during the coronavirus pandemic was based on information that would not have allowed such a definitive conclusion to be made.
The Committee’s statement said: “The review has also included minister for social security Ardalan Shekarabi’s statement on the basis for temporary gambling regulations.
“It has become clear that the minister has based his statement on information that does not allow for a definite conclusion as to whether gambling had increased or not. The minister is responsible for his opinions and also for the information he provides being correct.”
Notable measures implemented by Shekarabi include deposit limits for games at online casinos amounting to a maximum of SEK 5,000 (£422/€492), with the corresponding loss limit also applied to games at ATMs.
Additionally, it is mandatory for both online casino and ATM users to set limits on playing time, whilst bonuses offered by licensees who provide online casinos and ATMs are only permitted to amount to a maximum of SEK 100.
The restrictions have been repeatedly criticised by BOS, as well as other industry figures, which claims that the latest extension could cause further harm to the Swedish gambling sector.
Furthermore, BOS has stated that the constraints could prove harmful to Swedish customers, who will lose out on consumer protection, whilst reiterating channelisation concerns.
“Everyone has known that there was no basis for the statement about the alleged increased online casino gambling,” said Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary General of BOS.
“It is welcome that the Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee now confirms that. Ministers must have a basis for their statements, it is not enough to say things just because it fits into the policy you want to pursue.
“The minister’s statements about the alleged but unfounded increase in online casinos during the pandemic are the main reason why this form of gambling is still subject to very strict temporary restrictions. The next step must reasonably be for the government to quickly end these restrictions.”
Proposals for further regulation of Sweden’s gambling industry were accepted by the Spelinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Inspectorate earlier this year, although some objections were maintained.
The authority was supportive of an overhaul of advertising regulations and the introduction of licences for software providers, but resisted the implementation of loss limits.