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An amendment to temporary restrictions introduced by Swedish Social Affairs Minister Ardalan Shekarabi aims to exempt betting on horses and sports from the weekly deposit limit of SEK 5,000 for punters. In April, the social affairs minister devised a set of temporary restrictive measures aimed at preventing people from developing bad gambling habits as they spend more time at home due to a widely adopted approach to curbing the further spread of the virus.
In a document aimed at explaining the proposed changes, the government points out some concerns about the idea of introducing deposit limits for all verticals, recognising that different forms of gambling imply different levels of risk of developing bad habits. These concerns were raised by horse racing operator AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) during a consultation held on the original controls.
According to information reported by Poker Utan Svensk Licens, the restrictions were originally supposed to come into force on 1 June and be in force during 2021, but they are now aimed at 2 July as the start date. If adopted, the revised proposal would clearly show that the measures only target online casinos, which would cause serious controversy in the industry as to what the exact motive behind the move is.
Online gambling association Branscheförenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) has rejected the amended proposal, saying the proposed change is aimed at giving advantages to operators in which the government has an interest, such as ATG, where most board members have been appointed by the government.
"The new proposal cannot be understood from a consumer protection perspective. Since the first government proposals were submitted, we have received data from the Swedish Gambling Authority and the Swedish Tax Authority showing that the number of online casinos has not increased during covid-19, while the number of horse betting has increased dramatically. Against all reasonableness, the government now wants to exclude horse betting from further regulation, while online casinos will receive further restrictions." - Gustav Hoffstedt, general secretary, BOS
Players have clearly switched to betting on horse racing rather than online casinos, according to reports from five companies, as horse racing revenues rose by 37% between March and April compared to the previous month. Clearly, the recent move to exclude bouncing from deposit limits has nothing to do with consumer protection, Mr Hoffstedt concluded.
The general secretary also strongly criticised the initial set of restrictions, saying that the government had failed in its attempt to steer the online gambling market to Sweden, and that if the restrictions were enforced, it would only help illegal operators at the expense of licensees.
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