Sweden’s government has launched a consultation on a new, lower deposit limit for online casinos of SEK4,000 (£325.6/€389.2/$439.2) a month, set to come into force from February.
The country’s Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi revealed today (4 January) that a consultation had been launched as a result of the worsening Covid-19 situation, in order to protect vulnerable players.
This player protection argument was also used as justification for the previous online casino deposit cap of SEK5,000, which was in force between 2 July 2020 and 14 November 2021.
Originally intended to be a short-term measure, the cap was repeatedly extended. When he announced that it was to come to an end, Shekarabi called on local regulator Spelinspektionen to evaluate the need for a permanent cap on casino deposits.
It comes as Sweden tightens its Covid-19 controls due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus. Measures implemented from 23 December require Swedish citizens to work from home, a requirement for vaccine passports to be used for indoor events of more than 500 participants, and people ordered not to congregate in groups of more than eight.
The country’s gambling trade association Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS), which has been critical of the cap since it was first mooted, again attacked the proposal as hindering rather than helping player protection efforts.
Secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt explained that as the cap could only be applied to an account with a single operator, those looking to spend more than the SEK4,000 sum would simply register to gamble with other providers.
Spelinspektionen has previously pointed out that it was impossible to enforce the cap across all operators.
Hoffstedt said that prior to the cap’s introduction, players tended to have accounts with one or two licensees. After it was implemented, there has been “a sharp increase” in the number of accounts held by each player.
As play was split across multiple brands and accounts, it was more difficult for operators to develop an overall picture of player habits. “When gambling becomes as fragmented as it does with deposit limits, no individual gaming company can capture risky gaming behaviour, and thus a cornerstone of Swedish consumer protection in the gaming law is lost,” he added.
Hoffstedt therefore called on the government to rethink and safeguard consumer protection.