The European Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA) has urged the Swedish government to avoid enforcing temporary deposit limits across online gambling verticals, in order to protect the market against black market actors.
The EGBA’s warning comes after the advice for Swedish gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen raising concerns that the government’s interventions will hinder the market’s channelisation strategy.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of the EGBA, explained: “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.”
The limits, which have been proposed by the country’s health minister Ardalan Shekarabi, include significant restrictions on online gambling, with an enforced deposit limit of 5000 SEK (€471) per week for digital punters.
Spelinspektionen has warned against the measures, stating that it will have a ‘marginal effect’ but also emphasising that players will have less consumer protection measures if they were to gamble via unlicensed operators.
Supporting the Swedish regulator, the EGBA has added that ‘the proposed deposit limit could have unintended and detrimental effects – and harm more customers than they protect’ and ‘will do more to hit gambling and tax revenues’.
The trade body also reiterated that any positive effects of a deposit limit would be negated by the negative effects on channelisation.
The EGBA details that ministerial concerns should be addressed through countermeasures raising consumer awareness against black-market engagements and improving Sweden’s licensing of B2B suppliers and affiliates.
The EGBA emphasised that, according to available data, there has been no increase in online gambling in European countries since countries went into lockdown. It suggested that ‘targeted measures, including tailored interventions’ were used to protect those at risk of problem gambling.