Sweden’s Online Gambling Operators Threaten to Exit the Market

  • The Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) industry group sent a letter to Ardalan Shekarabi
  • Warns that if more players leave licensed sites due to heavy restrictions, licensees will also leave
  • Signed by the CEOs of Betsson, Kindred Group, LeoVegas, NetEnt, and William Hill
  • Last week the social security minister proposed stricter deposit limits for online gambling sites
businessman exiting office
Sweden’s biggest online gambling operators have threatened to pull out of the market if further restrictions are imposed. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Too many restrictions

Many of Sweden’s online gambling licensees have threatened to leave the regulated market if the government continues to impose restrictions.

The threat was made in an open letter published by the Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) industry group. The letter was directed to Ardalan Shekarabi, Sweden’s social security minister. 

The letter warns that customers are moving to offshore unlicensed gambling operators due to the restrictions imposed upon players through licensed platforms. Operators also issued a warning in the letter, stating:

If players leave, the companies follow suit.”

This open letter was signed by the CEOs of William Hill, NetEnt, LeoVegas, Kindred Group, and Betsson. The letter underlined the reasons why a licensed market was opened in Sweden in 2019 in the first place. This was to bring local gamblers to locally-licensed gambling sites, allowing their activity to be properly monitored for potential signs of problem gambling. 

Final straw for several operators

The gambling regulator and operators have clashed many times since the licensed online gambling market in Sweden was launched. There have been numerous issues regarding the interpretation of gambling laws.

The BOS’s letter states that the idea operators bought into initially is damaged as a result of the changes to regulations since the market launched. 

According to the BOS, licensed operators can no longer compete with their offshore rivals. The final straw was the proposal to introduce significant loss and deposit limits on Swedish players. It was Shekarabia who proposed these changes last week in order to protect consumers. However, this move would instead push players to offshore operators, according to the BOS.

this move would instead push players to offshore operators

The letter also reminded Shekarabi that it is the customers who decide where to play and that through digital channels, the state does not have proper power. 

Shekarabi refusing to back down

Comments made by Shekarabi to local media suggested that the proposed limits were not set in stone. However, he actually meant that they could become even stricter.

One way that these measures could be reinforced further is to implement a monthly deposit limit of SEK5,000 ($510) across all gambling operators. This would prevent players from depositing the maximum amount at numerous platforms per month.

Shekarabi is looking to protect consumers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Countless people are out of work and have nothing to do. To date, more than 21,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Sweden, resulting in more than 2,650 deaths.