BOS calls for Swedish restrictions to end after Riksdag’s Shekarabi criticism

Sweden flag
Image: Shutterstock

BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, has called on the country’s government to “quickly end” the temporary gambling regulations that are still in place, and were recently extended until November 14, 2021.

This comes after the Constitutional Committee of the Riksdag, the highest decision-making assembly in Sweden, criticised the basis with which Ardalan Shekarabi, minister for social security, imposed the constraints, which first came into play on July 2, 2020.

The Committee says a suggestion that gambling at online casinos would have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic was based upon information that would have not allowed such a definitive conclusion to be made.

The rules, which are said to be aimed at “particularly risky forms of gambling,” have subsequently been extended several times, and are currently set to run until the penultimate month of the year.

These include deposit limits for games at online casinos amounting to a maximum of SEK 5,000, with the corresponding loss limit applying to games at ATMs.

It is also mandatory for users to set limits on playing time when playing at online casinos and ATMs, with bonuses offered by licensees who provide online casinos and ATMs only permitted to amount to a maximum of SEK 100.

The Constitution Committee’s statement said: “The review has also included minister for social security Ardalan Shekarabi’s statement on the basis for temporary gambling regulations. 

“It has become clear that the minister has based his statement on information that does not allow for a definite conclusion as to whether gambling had increased or not. The minister is responsible for his opinions and also for the information he provides being correct.”

BOS, alongside several industry incumbents, have consistently criticised the measures, with the trade association last month saying that the latest extension could hurt the Swedish market further, stating that players will lose out on consumer protection, as well as citing previously widely expressed channelisation concerns.

Responding to the Committee’s statement, Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, commented: “Everyone has known that there was no basis for the statement about the alleged increased online casino gambling.

“It is welcome that the Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee now confirms that. Ministers must have a basis for their statements, it is not enough to say things just because it fits into the policy you want to pursue.

“The minister’s statements about the alleged but unfounded increase in online casinos during the pandemic are the main reason why this form of gambling is still subject to very strict temporary restrictions. The next step must reasonably be for the government to quickly end these restrictions.”