Sweden Introduces New Rules to Protect Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

  • The Swedish government is taking action due to a significant increase in online casino gambling
  • New restrictions are expected to remain in place until the end of 2020
  • Weekly deposit limit of SEK 5,000 ($495) will be enforced, time limit must be set for each session
  • Authorities would consider shutting down the online gambling sector until the pandemic ends
Sweden flag with grunge texture
The Swedish government has introduced new rules to protect online gamblers, with the rules set to remain in place for the remainder of 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Concerns raised over online casino gambling

The Swedish government, led by its social security minister Ardalan Shekarabi, has introduced strict new rules to protect online gamblers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday morning, Shekarabi outlined these new measures to curtail gambling. Speaking about the current situation, Shekarabi said that it is a

dangerous cocktail of several circumstances that may increase the risk of gambling addiction.”

Shekarabi spoke about the economic impact of this crisis. He touched upon how levels of unemployment and sick leave are increasing, with extensive financial uncertainty in the country. He also underlined the importance of the government quickly acting to protect consumers. 

Weekly deposit limit to be enforced

The government’s newly announced rules are set to be rolled out on June 1 and will remain in place until the end of 2020. These rules include limiting how much each person can deposit at an online gambling site in a week to SEK 5,000 ($495).

There will be a similar loss limit in place for those who play slots. Anyone who wishes to play casino games will be asked to set a time limit for their sessions. Bonus offers will also be restricted to a maximum of SEK 100 ($9.90) during until the coronavirus crisis ends.

There will also be further assignments given to the gambling authorities to keep an eye on the market and enact potential further restrictions. This could even result in the online gambling sector being shut down until the pandemic ends.

Efforts to crack down on unlicensed operators targeting Swedish residents will also continue. Before the virus kicked in, the Swedish government had been contemplating a total ban on gambling advertising. 

Licensed operators express dismay

Licensed gambling operators in Sweden are said to be dismayed at these curtailments. They are already reeling from the lack of sports betting activity caused by widespread cancellations. As a result, these operators have spent almost 60% less on advertising compared to this time last year.

already reeling from the lack of sports betting activity caused by widespread cancellations

Industry experts fearf that these strict restrictions in Sweden will drive more gamblers to unlicensed sites. If people are subject to a partial or shutdown gambling shutdown in Sweden, they will likely look elsewhere, according to experts. This will further drain government tax revenue

Impact of coronavirus in Sweden

Sweden has been affected by the ongoing pandemic just like most countries across Europe. However, it has been taking a different approach to the situation in comparison to most countries. 

The Swedish government is allowing citizens to frequent pubs, restaurants, and gyms as long as they remain at arm’s length from other people. This is an approach of personal responsibility rather than an enforced lockdown.

To date, more than 16,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Sweden, sadly resulting in 1,937 deaths. 

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