EGBA joins criticism of Swedish limits

EGBA adds its voice to mounting criticism.
EGBA adds its voice to mounting criticism.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has added to the criticism of the strict limits placed on online betting in Sweden.

Sweden.- Another voice has joined the criticism of the Swedish regulator’s imposition of strict online betting limits during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sweden imposed a number of strict limits on online gambling to protect citizens during the coronavirus lockdown, including a deposit limit of SEK5000 (€471) per week.

The EGBA has joined those that argue that the enforced deposit limit could drive high-spending customers to unlicensed websites that offer less consumer protection.

The regulator in Sweden warned that while the limits would have a marginal effect on the majority of Swedish gamblers, they could push a minority of between 5 per cent and 25 per cent of higher-spending customers to illegal operators. 

The EGBA has joined the criticism and has delivered a written submission to the Swedish government, arguing that the justification for the restrictions was not evidence-led because online gambling in Sweden had decreased.

The latest figures from the country’s regulator, Spelinspektionen, show that although casino play has increased, the cancelation of sporting events means that overall online gambling in Sweden was down by 6 per cent in the four months to the end of April.

The association signalled data that shows online gambling in other European countries had also decreased, including in Belgium, Denmark and the UK. 

The EGBA said that rather than one-size-fits-all restrictions that had little effect on most punters but jeopardised consumer protection for higher spenders, it supported targeted measures, including tailored interventions, to protect those at risk of problem gambling.

It signalled a recent study that showed that 40 per cent of Sweden’s online casino customers and 34 per cent of sports betting customers already gambled on unlicensed websites or would consider doing so.

Maarten Haijer, EGBA Secretary General, said: “We understand that politicians seek to reassure and protect their citizens during these difficult times, but the proposed gambling restrictions could actually harm more customers than they protect.

“Many Swedes are already gambling on unlicensed websites and these restrictions will make unlicensed websites – which don’t apply any limits – even more attractive to them.

“We must remember gambling is human behaviour, consumers will always make their own choices and top-down regulation rarely works. In this case, it could have detrimental or counterproductive effects by pushing more gambling onto unregulated websites.”

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