The Swedish government is looking to extend the period of validity of temporary restrictions imposed on locally licensed gambling operators earlier this year as part of the country’s efforts to reduce gambling-related harm during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Sweden’s Minister for Social Security, Ardalan Shekarabi, outlined a proposal to extend the temporary measures through June 2021.
These measures are currently set to expire at the end of the year. However, Sweden joined many European countries last week and introduced new Covid-19 restrictions as the entire continent fights to contain a new significant wave of new cases.
And as people are urged to stay home and avoid large social gatherings, the government is now pushing to also place restrictions on locally licensed gambling activities or rather extend the restrictions already in place.
The Proposed Measures
Minister Shekarabi said Tuesday that the previously implemented deposit limit for online casino games should remain at SEK5,000 through June 2021. A corresponding loss limit should too remain in place, the Social Security Minister also noted.
In addition, players will also still be required to set a limit on their playing time when playing at online casinos.
Bonuses offered by Sweden-licensed online gambling operators must not exceed SEK100, under the temporary restrictions that were introduced earlier this year and the government looks to now extend the validity of.
The government has initiated a consultation on the proposed extension of the measures and consultation responses are required to be submitted to the Swedish Ministry of Finance by November 23, 2020.
The temporary measures were introduced by Minister Shekarabi this past April and took effect on July 2, despite protests from the online gambling sector.
Gambling operators argued that the government’s own data could not justify the stake, bonus, and playing time restrictions, citing a report by the Swedish Gambling Authority that actually showed a decline in overall online gambling activity since the pandemic hit.
A Very Serious Situation
Minister Shekarabi said Tuesday that they see the “development of Covid-19 is going in the wrong direction” in several parts of Sweden and the situation is very serious. He went on that in the wake of the pandemic, they see a continued risk in the area of gambling, “which means that we need to act to reduce the risks for vulnerable consumers.”
As mentioned above, the Social Security Minister, who has also been calling for permanent restrictions on the sector for a while, is looking to extend the current temporary measures through mid-2021.
According to a recent report by Swedish news outlet News55, tax filings of locally licensed online gambling operators showed that these suffered declines in local sales of up to 30% between June and August.
The sector has fired repeated warnings that the restrictive measures would impact significantly channelization and instead of protecting Swedish gamblers, would actually direct them to unlicensed operations.
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