Since July 2020, the online casino market in Sweden has been tightened. The reason for this can be traced back to COVID-19-related circumstances. Initially, it was assumed that the tightly drawn up rules would only last until the turn of the year. Now these are to be extended until June 2021. The industry is therefore increasingly criticizing politics.
Normally, it is to be expected that politicians tend to complain about the industry. In the case of the online casino sector in Sweden, however, it is exactly the other way around: The gaming industry and above all the online gaming association BOS are severely criticizing the fact that the government apparently imposes excessively strict regulations that make the market suffer but at the same time do not protect it enough.
Let’s take a quick look back at 2019 in order to better understand the developments in gaming in Sweden: Since January 1, 2019, not only can state-licensed companies offer gaming, but the offer is also available to corporations from abroad. The foreign companies must of course also have a valid license. This made the range of games more attractive for customers. According to the Swedish gaming authority Spelinspektiven, the sales of some online providers have increased significantly since then. Even so, overall sales in the Swedish gaming sector have declined.
Limits of all kinds
By mid-2021 there should be stricter regulations for Swedish online casinos with a license. The aim is to prevent problematic gambling behavior by endangered customers as much as possible. What exactly do these regulations contain?
Stakes are limited to 5,000 Swedish kronor per week. That corresponds to about 476 euros. Bonuses can only be up to 100 Swedish Crowns and time limits must be set by customers before the game starts.
It is of course easy to understand why the government wants to pursue these protective measures more intensively in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time, of course, the business of many online providers is suffering from the restrictive regulations. Trav och Galopp, the former horse-racing monopoly, reacted particularly negatively. As a result, the government even eased the rules a little and only introduced the limit rules for online casinos and land-based slot machines.
The main fear now is that these regulations will drive more customers towards the black market. In addition to the loss of sales, this is probably the biggest criticism of the new measures. For example, LeoVegas saw 20 percent less revenue in the third quarter.
Strict regulations remain in place
The Swedish Gambling Association is now also strongly criticizing the new rules and notes that providers without a license and horse betting providers are benefiting from the situation, but the rest of the gaming sector only has disadvantages. It is also argued that the fear of an increase in problematic gambling behavior has not yet been documented. Customers could also easily circumvent the stake limit by switching back and forth between several providers.
Nevertheless, the Swedish online casino market still seems to be subject to the current regulations. It seems that economic losses are currently preferred to a lack of stabilizing rules in such uncertain times as these.