The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) today requests in a letter to the government that the temporary restrictions for online casinos be lifted from 29 September, and not on 14 November as previously decided by the government. This is due to the fact that the government during a press conference on September 7 announced that almost all general restrictions related to the pandemic will be lifted on September 29.
The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) requests in this letter that the Government bring forward the termination of the temporary ordinance on gambling liability measures. The regulation regulates deposit limits, playing time limits and bonus limits for online casinos and VLTs. The government has decided on the temporary ordinance in several rounds, the most recent date 20 May this year. It was then decided that the regulation would be extended until 14 November this year.
During the period of the regulation, it has emerged that there is no support for the assumption that gambling problems linked to online casinos would have increased due to the pandemic and the fact that people spend more time at home. Professor Mark Griffiths at the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University has shown in a study from January to May 2020 – thus unaffected by the government’s temporary ordinance – that the number of Swedish gaming consumers increased during the first phase of the pandemic, but that the size of the average bets decreased. So more people played online, but for less money. Professor Griffith’s study also shows that consumers with a high risk of problem gambling reduced their gambling intensity during this period.
Most indications today are that Sweden has overcome the most difficult phase of the pandemic. As a consequence, Swedish society has begun a return from a state of emergency to a normal situation. For the gaming market, it has so far been mainly noticed by the state-owned land-based casino Casino Cosmopol opening its operations on July 7 this year, without the temporary restrictions that apply to online casinos.
The fact that the government announced on 7 September that most of the general restrictions will be removed from 29 September this year is, of course, an even clearer signal of the government’s ambition to return Sweden to a normal situation. This includes the Swedish Public Health Agency’s advice to withdraw the advice to work from home, which was the main argument for the temporary regulation on gambling liability measures, as it was claimed that increased stays at home would lead to increased gambling problems with online casino gambling.
Against this background, BOS hereby requests the government to include a termination of the temporary regulation on gambling measures, together with the termination of the general pandemic restrictions. Thus, the temporary regulation on gambling liability measures would end on 29 September this year, and not on 14 November.
We look forward to the feedback from Minister Ardalan Shekarabi on this issue.
With kind regards,
Gustaf Hoffstedt
Secretary General, The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling