Sweden Backs Off Lowering Online Gambling Limits, But New Rules Coming

Posted on: January 28, 2022, 06:20h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2022, 12:10h.

In a surprising break from the norm, Sweden has decided not to clamp down on online gambling limits.

The Swedish Parliament
The Swedish Parliament, seen here, continues to shape the country’s gambling regulations. New rules are coming as of January 1 next year. (Image: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg)

Sweden authorities recently began entertaining the idea of introducing a new cap for iGaming deposits. Instead of the SEK5,000 (US$529) limit seen recently, the new limit was going to be SEK4,000 ($423).

The previous limit was a result of concern over an increase in iGaming activity as a result of COVID-19. With the omicron variant becoming a threat, it seemed like a new, lower cap made sense.

Spelinspektionen, the country’s gambling regulator, was supportive of the new limits. The measures now off the table included which included a SEK100 ($44) limit on signup bonuses.

“We are in favor of strong regulation of the gaming market, and a prerequisite for this is that the intention with various reforms can also be expected to have the intended effect. That was not the case with the [COVID-19] restrictions, and it is, therefore, welcome that they are withdrawn,” said Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general for the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling.

New Regulations on Their Way

The trend du jour in countries around the world is to continue to tighten the screws holding the iGaming lid in place. It’s a little surprising that Sweden would back off. But cooler heads prevailed. Evidence showed, according to industry insiders, that the increased limits didn’t do anything to reduce gambling harm.

This doesn’t mean that other restrictions aren’t coming. Sweden has been exploring new rules and regulations, some of which have been approved this week. Minister of Finance Ardalan Shekarabi provided an update on Wednesday.

All iGaming software suppliers will need to be licensed in the country. This should reduce the number of unlicensed gaming operations, according to the Finance Ministry. An existing ban on the promotion of unlicensed gambling sites will continue, as well. Promotion of legal operations won’t go away but is likely to find new restrictions.

More Clarity Needed

The Finance Ministry announced that it wants to introduce a “market disruption fine” for operators.

This penalty would arrive if an operator targets consumers through marketing that could be considered “disruptive.” In this context, there is no definition of disruptive yet, which is the source of the confusion.

There’s one other rule as the country tries to “regain control” of its gaming market. All licensed entities would be responsible for delivering regular data about their public – not private – activity. This, asserts the ministry, would allow it to define and track trends and developments in the industry.

Barring any changes between now and then, the new rules will become effective as of Jan. 1, 2023.