Swedish casino Kindred violates Gambling Act goals
Unibet operator Kindred has condemned the Swedish government’s plan to extend controls including a SEK500 (£439/€490/$580) deposit cap until June 2021, declaring that the policy goes against the intentions of the country’s 2018 Gambling Act. The rules were supposed to expire towards the end of the year, but this month the Government opened a consultation on their extension.
Kindred designated, in its consultation response, that when the Swedish online gambling market was first opened at the start of 2019, the Government was very much against the limits applied on all players. The new controls, it said, therefore amounted to a change of course – and one that has not been adequately justified.
“The government claimed at the introduction of the Gambling Act that general limits for the players were not an effective way to meet the need of protection,” it said. “Instead, they claimed that individual limits set by the players themselves was the right method. No facts on why the government now are acting in the opposite way has been presented.”
The operator also said that the Swedish government has still not provided any factual basis for their introduction, even seven months after the restrictions were first suggested.
“Support organisations, and others with knowledge of gambling and problem gambling, cannot account for any notable connections between the pandemic and an increase in problem gambling in Sweden at licensed Swedish operators,” it said.
It also mentioned that “The government has not taken any measures” to make sure that players in Sweden are playing with licensed operators. A survey conducted earlier this month and commissioned by regulator Spelinspektionen found that only 5% of Swedes knew how to check whether an operator is licensed or not.
“The government has two means to increase the share of gambling that are under Swedish control: to create fair conditions for gambling customers to choose to play at licensed operators, or to make the access to play at unlicensed operators more difficult,” it said. “The government does neither.”
Henrik Tjärnström, chief executive of the Kindred Group, said action by the government during the pandemic was detrimental to the goals of the Gambling Act.
“What we can see is a lower channelisation and an increased activity at unlicensed operators with zero consumer protection,” he said. “That is a step in the wrong direction, and it is not the gambling policy decided by the Swedish Parliament.”
Spelinspektionen has also commented on the consultation, and called the extension “reasonable”. On the other hand, Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), the operator association, called for the measures to be withdrawn, and pointed out the fact that there has been no evidence of a spike in problem gambling and arguing it both helped the black market and encouraged players to create accounts with more operators, therefore becoming much more difficult to monitor.
Despite such controls being implemented starting from 2 July, online gambling revenue in Sweden increased to SEK3.69bn across sport and casino combined during Q3 of 2020.