Sweden: Deposit limit in online casinos despite protest

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Sweden: Deposit limit in online casinos despite protest
Sweden has introduced a deposit limit for online casinos. Since July 2, customers have been able to deposit a maximum of SEK 5,000 (approx. EUR 187) a week in online casinos. This limit initially only applies until the end of the year. The new limit will be introduced primarily due to the current health crisis. However, many gaming providers are heavily criticizing the new deposit limit. The new deposit limit for online casinos in Sweden has been in effect since July 2nd. All online casinos with a Swedish license must ensure that customers do not deposit more than SEK 5,000 per week. The new regulation stems from an initiative by the Minister of Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi. Although almost all industry experts and even the Swedish gaming authority have spoken out against the new deposit limit, gaming providers in Sweden now have to cope with a significant new restriction.

Deposit limit introduced despite protest
Sweden However, the limit only applies to online casinos. It was originally planned to limit sports betting with this deposit limit. However, this part of the original proposal was ultimately not implemented after violent protests. Gambling providers such as Betsson, Slotty Vegas and LeoVegas have been trying to prevent the new deposit limit until the very end. There is already a problem on the Swedish gambling market that many casino players do not use the legal offers at all, but are instead active on the black market. The deposit limit means that players who need special protection are more likely to use online casinos that are not regulated by the Swedish Gaming Authority. But the Social Minister can at least say that Sweden has very strict gambling regulations. Whether the new regulation has any meaningful effect in practice is usually not discussed outside the gaming industry.

A deposit limit of 187 euros per week is not the end of the world. But for the gaming industry, which is already under great pressure from the current crisis, it was a great challenge to create the technical requirements within a few weeks in order to be able to implement the new deposit limit at all. It is suspected that this deposit limit is actionism. Most gambling fans don’t even begin to deposit that much money per week in online casinos. The high rollers, who place significantly higher sums, will probably not be deterred from this limit, but will instead play in online casinos without a license. The question is therefore, who should this deposit limit help in practice? The Swedish gambling regulation was celebrated as a great success last year because a large part of the actual market could be legalized. But since the end of last year, the Swedish government has been trying to introduce new restrictions. Some experts fear that the new deposit limit could significantly reduce the share of the legal market in the overall market. The result would be that many Swedish gambling fans do not benefit from the strict Swedish player protection rules in practice. It is reasonable to suspect that the introduction of strict regulation is primarily about ideology and not about pragmatic politics.

Bonus offers are also very limited in Sweden
Since the introduction of the Swedish gambling regulation in early 2019, Swedish online casinos are only allowed to offer one casino bonus per customer. As a rule, this means that the welcome bonus is the only bonus offer that is provided in online casinos with a Swedish license. Most casino operators and most casino visitors can live well with this. But now the Swedish government has decided on a bonus limit along with the deposit limit. A bonus may not be higher than 100 SEK (approx.3.75 euros). If you are a little familiar with online casinos, you can see at first glance that this is an incredibly low sum. The bonus offers in the casinos with Swedish license are very unattractive. At the same time, there are bonus offers in the online casinos without a Swedish license that are significantly higher and much more attractive. The question is how the legal casino operators should work successfully under these conditions. First, for various reasons, Sweden is unable to shut down the black market entirely. On the other hand, Sweden is making it difficult for companies that adhere to strict regulations to implement an attractive business model. If Sweden continues along this path, there is every indication that the gambling regulation will completely fail.

The first goal of gambling regulation should always be to capture the existing market as completely as possible. There will always be providers outside of legal regulation, but if the number is small and the legal offer attractive, most gambling fans will never think of looking outside the regulated offer. The advantage of the regulated offers for the Swedish gambling fans is obvious: The Swedish gambling authority ensures that everything is done properly and correctly. This guarantee does not exist to the same extent with providers that are not regulated in Sweden. Nevertheless, there can also be reputable online casinos in Sweden, which are regulated, for example, by other reputable gambling authorities and accordingly offer good player protection. But if the gambling regulation is so strict that the quality difference between the legal offers and the offers on the black market is considerable, many gambling fans will decide against the legal market. Economists learn that in the first semester. But politics is not necessarily about making sensible decisions. Rather, the decisions have to be popular. Action against online gambling is apparently a worthwhile thing for politicians in Sweden too.

Gambling fans in Sweden fall by the wayside
The new limits for deposits and bonus offers in Sweden are not dramatic in themselves. Most gambling fans will still have fun in online casinos with a Swedish license. But there will be more and more casino players looking for alternatives on the Internet. Even before the limits were introduced, there were reports that the number of Swedish gambling fans looking for providers without a license has grown significantly in recent months. This trend is further intensified. It would be consistent if the politicians accompanied the introduction of new measures to protect players with studies in order to assess the effectiveness. But that is probably not always desirable. Many people view gambling rather negatively and that is why a minister who takes tough measures against online gambling can make a name for himself in public. Whether this will eventually make player protection even worse for many gambling fans in Sweden is a question that ultimately only interests the experts.

The many Swedish gambling fans who were able to play in nationally licensed online casinos for the first time last year fell by the wayside in the whole discussion. It is interesting to see that customers in online casinos have no lobby. There are gambling providers who have a great economic interest. Then there are the associations that primarily take care of the problem players. However, it is often overlooked that only a very small proportion of casino visitors get a serious problem at some point. For example, nobody would abolish road traffic just because there are a few hooligans who don’t want to abide by the rules. The regulation of online casinos should take all interests into account. The many casino fans who play occasionally or regularly should be heard as well as the associations and gambling providers. Then it might be possible to implement somewhat more sensible regulation than is currently the case in Sweden. Above all, it would be easier to take targeted measures to protect the players who need this protection. A gambling regulation for online casinos will soon be implemented in Germany, which is even stricter than anything that Sweden has implemented so far. German gambling fans can currently benefit from the fact that there is no national gambling regulation. But when the new gaming authority in Saxony-Anhalt is soon responsible for regulating online mobile casinos, a lot will change. Many experts fear that the situation for gambling fans and gambling providers in Germany will then become significantly more unpleasant than it is currently in Sweden.

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