Kindred Group criticized the Swedish government’s plan to extend online gambling restrictions until June 2021, arguing that they do not protect players and only benefit offshore sites. Problem gambling rates remained somewhat unchained over the past months.
Extending Restrictions Goes Against the Gambling Act
Unibet operator Kindred Group slammed the Swedish government‘s proposal to extend online gambling restrictions until June 30 next year. The temporary restrictions were introduced in July due to concerns over problem gambling during the Covid-19 pandemic and were supposed to expire at the end of 2020.
Earlier this month, the Swedish government submitted a Memorandum on pushing restrictions until next June, which was up for discussion until November 23. The Ministry of Finance’s proposal draft, issued last July, states that the weekly SEK5,000 ($580.64) deposit cap and the SEK100 limit on bonuses will be extended until June 2021.
The Kindred Group said the extension plan contradicts the Gambling Act and the Parliament’s policy, and added that the government lacked facts and did not prove their assumptions. The regulator has declared that the extension would provide better player protection as the increase in positive cases could trigger more online gambling activity.
As the channelization rate has decreased, meaning there is less licensed gambling activity, Kindred commented on Sweden’s failure to act on the issue. It said it is “the most likely effect of the restriction”. Although the government had announced an online casino rate of a minimum of 90%, the reported rate was at 72 to 78% before the introduction of the restrictions.
Kindred also said that Swedish Legislature did not attempt to motivate players to use licensed companies over unlicensed ones.
”During these seven months that the restrictions have been in place, the Swedish government have not been taking any measures to determine the level of channelisation, they have not accounted for any measures against unlicensed operators in Sweden, and they cannot present any notable connections between the pandemic and increased problem gambling in Sweden at licensed Swedish operators”
Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of the Kindred Group
Unchanged Problem Gambling Rates
Despite the decline in gambling activity in the country, problem gambling rates remain rather unchanged, according to Svenska Spel, a state-owned gambling operator.
The Swedish Gambling Authority, Spelinspektionen, had sided with gaming operators, initially, but said that it now favors the extension.
The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) in Swedish, slammed the extension plan, and said that the temporary limits only benefit offshore sites and do not protect customers, especially since most unlicensed operators offer close to zero player protection.
Operator LeoVegas said that Swedish gaming regulators should start giving out warnings to unlicensed casinos, as well as blocking payments and IP addresses. It also suggested that tax authorities focus on players betting big on offshore sites.
In its statement, the Kindred Group said that “the government has two means to increase the share of gambling that are under Swedish control: to create fair conditions for gambling customers to choose to play at licensed operators and to make the access to play at unlicensed operators more difficult. The government does neither.”