BOS condemns further plan to extend Sweden’s digital restrictions

BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, has hit out at a further extension of the country’s temporary restrictions on the gaming industry until November 14, 2021. 

The mandates, which came into play in July 2020 and have been consistently criticised by several throughout the industry, were initially slated to expire before the close of the year. A past extension, lasting until June 30, 2021, was branded troubling and illogical by BOS.

The Ministry of Finance has issued a proposed extension of the restrictions for Swedish-licensed online casinos until November 14, with reference to COVID-19.

The memorandum, which has been submitted for consultation until May 3, 2021, contains proposals for an extension of the SEK 5,000 deposit limit for games at online casinos, a mandatory requirement for players to set limits on playing time, and bonuses not exceeding SEK 100.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, has suggested that the move could hurt the Swedish market further, stating that players will lose out on consumer protection as well as citing previously widely expressed channelisation concerns.

“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,” Ardalan Shekarabi, minister of social insurance, said of the extension decision.

The controversial move, should the region’s government issue its approval, would represent the second time that the temporary restrictions have been extended.

“I have previously stated that there is nothing as lasting as a political promise of something temporary,” Hoffstedt commented. “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.”

Adding: “To extend restrictions that are disapproved by gaming consumers is to ask for continued problems for the channelling into the licensed market when it comes to online casinos. 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.”