The government of Sweden is once again proposing to extend the temporary limit on online casino deposits under the guise of Covid-related consumer protections.

The temporary restriction limiting online casino deposit limits to SEK5,000 per week first came into force in July 2020 in response to the perceived risk of increased problem gambling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and was subsequently extended to the end of June 2021.

The government now wants to keep the deposit limit in place until November, when Sweden’s emergency pandemic law expires.

“We see that the spread of Covid-19 is still high in Sweden,” social security minister Ardalan Shekarabi said Friday. “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.”

A second extension would prove controversial, given that there has been little evidence of an increase in problem gambling during the pandemic, while the government’s own research has shown an increase in the number of players abandoning the regulated market in favour of unlicensed online gambling websites with fewer restrictions.

“I have previously stated that there is nothing as lasting as a political promise of something temporary,” said Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS).

“The government seems unaware that their own expert authority, the State Treasury, 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 cancer for the channeling into the licensed market when it comes to online casinos,” Hoffstedt added. “Thus, Swedish gaming consumers will lose out on the consumer protection that the Swedish Parliament has decided will apply in our country. It is provocative that the Swedish government in a rhetoric about caring for the consumer in practice does the opposite and hurts the Swedish gaming license market with its strong consumer protection.”

The proposed extension of the deposit limit to November 14 is subject to a consultation ending on May 3.

Gaming Intelligence

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