The European Gaming and Betting Association has urged the Swedish government to take advice from the country’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, who has warned that an enforced deposit limit could drive high-spending customers to unlicensed websites where they have less consumer protection.

This comes after the Swedish government proposed a number of restrictions on online gambling, including the deposit limit of SEK 5000 ($471) per week for online gamblers. The EGBA emphasised its belief that safer gambling is ‘important now more than ever’ during the current lockdowns across Europe.

Maarten Haijer, secretary general, EGBA, said: “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 behavior, 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 EGBA added that any positive effects of a deposit limit would be negated by the negative impacts on channelisation. A recent study carried out by The Swedish Trade Association For Online Gambling revealed that 40 per cent of Sweden’s online casino customers, and 34 per cent of sports betting customers already gamble on unlicensed websites, or would consider doing so.

The regulator emphasised that rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all restrictions’, there should be more targeted measures, including tailored interventions to protect those at risk of problem gambling at this time.

Based on the available data, the EGBA stated that there has been no increase in online gambling in European countries, including Sweden, since the coronavirus lockdown with some regulators suggesting that the levels of online gambling have decreased ‘substantially’.