Moves by the Swedish government to introduce strict deposit and bonus limits on casinos have met with a mixed response. Their plans are designed to encourage more responsible gambling, but there are fears that this may encourage the use of non-licensed casinos instead.
What Are the Plans?
The idea is to introduce a SEK 5,000 ($509) weekly deposit limit for players, as well as a maximum of SEK100 ($10) on bonuses. These limits would apply to a variety of different markets, from online casinos in Sweden to video lottery terminals and sports betting.
Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi introduced the proposal, saying that it would be in place from the start of June until the end of 2020, if approved. He also pointed out that they will look at placing limits on playing time and possible RTP restrictions as well.
What Are the Possible Effects?
While the proposal is designed to encourage more responsible gambling, some industry figures are concerned that it may cause players to move away from licensed sites. They may go elsewhere to seek higher limits and bonuses that let them carry on playing for longer.
Gustaf Hoffstedt is the secretary-general of Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), which is the country’s online gambling trade association. He said that he was “very concerned” that the rule changes could lead to Swedish players switching to unlicensed sites.
Spelinspektionen is the regulatory authority in Sweden. They are known for a strict approach and have promised to implement the changes that have been asked for. However, they are also believed to be wary of high-spending players using offshore sites to avoid the tougher criteria.
Recent research has already shown that up to a third of Swedish players have been searching online for unlicensed casinos, which is a 300% increase in the last 12 months. It is worth remembering that not all casino sites in other countries are unlicensed, though.
Many casinos have licenses from alternative, respected regulatory bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority. An example is SkyCity Casino, which is licensed by the authority in Malta and includes a section on playing responsibly.
What Happens Next
The referral process for this process ended on 7 May, with all of the stakeholders having provided their feedback to the government by that date.
One alternative put forward by opponents of the proposal is to introduce a maximum loss limit instead of a restriction on deposits and bonuses. Others believe that educating players to set their own limits is more likely to encourage them to gamble responsibly in the long-term.
Software provider NetEnt was among the companies that suggested this law could turn away players from authorized sites. They pointed out the risk of the government losing out on the SEK 4 billion ($407 million) of gambling tax that they currently collect.
This follows on from a BOS report that revealed the attempts to channel players to licensed sites is only managing to get up to a 78% success rate. The figure is 85% for sports betting sites.
The government will now consider the different responses that have been received, before deciding whether to press ahead with these changes or alter them in some way.