The Swedish government is very concerned about protecting its citizens from the temptations of online gambling during the pandemic and is looking to extend deposit limits at licensed operators to do so. On its face, that sounds like a good idea but regulated operators say it only drives players to the black market.
As it stands today, Swedish players are only allowed to deposit 5000 SK ($589 USD) a month with licensed operators. That limit is meant to protect players from getting in over their heads as they navigate life in COVID-19 lockdown. The deposit limit has been in place since last July and was recently extended to June of this year. Government officials are concerned that a new wave of COVID, and its associated lockdowns, will fuel more problem gambling and want to extend the deposit limits until November.
In a statement reported on by iGamingBusiness.com,Swedish Minister of Social Insurance Ardalan Shekarabi defended the extension saying, ““We see that the spread of Covid-19 is still high in Sweden, the current situation entails great risks for consumers in the gaming market. We therefore need to act to reduce the risks for the most vulnerable consumers.”
Sweden’s licensed gambling operators say the limit isn’t working and is actually driving players to gamble at black market sites. Gustaf Hoffstedt, the leader of a Swedish online gambling trade group spoke out against the limits saying, ““The government seems unaware that their own expert authority, the Swedish Agency for Public Management, just over a week ago stated that the leakage from the Swedish gaming market to the unregulated gaming market is alarmingly high.”
“The leakage for online casinos is particularly high, where as much as every fourth gaming krona is played outside the Swedish licensed market.
“To extend restrictions that are disapproved by gaming consumers is to ask for continued problems for the channeling into the licensed market when it comes to online casinos.”
While both sides are making good arguments, there’s little doubt that the limits will not be extended…and little doubt that the black market will be the main beneficiary of them.