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Sweden’s controversial gambling restrictions have ended

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After delays and extensions, Sweden’s government has lifted gambling restrictions that have received negative feedback.

As the world went into lockdown due to Covid, everything changed for different industries. People stuck at home turned to online gambling which forced governments and regulators to make decisions that could protect players from harm.

In Sweden, restrictions were put in place in July 2020 but many felt that they were too limiting and could harm the industry as a whole. The restrictions included a SEK 5000 monthly deposit and loss limit, a SEK 100 cap on bonuses, and the enforcement of time limits on betting accounts.

Now, players are rejoicing as these restrictions were officially lifted on the 14th of November 2021.

Change for the good

It’s no secret that gambling regulations need to be in place in order for online casinos and betting sites to thrive, and Sweden is no different. While it’s important to protect players and the possible threat of gambling harm, the restrictions need to be sustainable for Sweden's online casinos.

In September 2021, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel - BOS) insisted that the government lift the heavy restrictions before permanent damage was done to the industry.

The organisation’s Secretary-General Gustaf Hoffstedt, said: “The main argument from the Government for the restrictions was a concern that increased time spent in the home during the pandemic would lead to increased gambling problems. That did not happen.”

If that is the truth, the controversial restrictions were completely unnecessary but there is more that needs to be uncovered regarding this fact going forward.

Spelinspektionen evalution

Now that the restrictions have expired, the Swedish government has called upon Spelinspektionen (the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate) to evaluate just how effective the restrictions were for both players and online casinos.

The Spelinspektionen is required to submit their evaluation report by the 15th of March 2022. The final version of the report will have to be submitted by the 31st of October 2023.

The evaluation and report will not only look at which of the restrictions actually worked but will also have to propose new ways to strengthen player protection in the future.

Consistency is key

Ann-Sofie Olsson, BOS, commented on the fact that Sweden’s government needs to ensure that consistent and manageable change takes place in Sweden's regulations and in the iGaming industry.

“We cannot stress enough that a sustainable regulated gaming market needs long-term and consistent, not temporary regulations. BOS is therefore looking forward to the dialogue that will come from the assignment the government has given to the Swedish Gambling Inspection, where the temporary measures will be evaluated,” said Olssen.

Moving forward, it remains to be seen which of the restrictions will be implemented again or what changes could be on the horizon for Sweden’s gambling industry.

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