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Swedish regulations limits deposit database

10 September 2020

(PRESS RELEASE) -- With 2020’s developments have come several changes in gambling legislation across the board in Europe, especially in Scandinavia. Norway has been going through its own period of unrest and controversy, as reported by industry players in the Norwegian market such as Casinospesialisten. However, even more so than Norway, it is Sweden that has seen the greatest level of upheaval.

As customers stayed inside, legislators sought to combat problem gambling and to ensure that players could have a responsible gaming experience when accessing online casino websites. Their measures, however, have come under fire from Spelinspektionen and others for being unenforceable – but what are the regulations that are being criticized, and why?

Casino restrictions

The key to restricting problem gambling, for the Swedish Government, is imposing a deposit limit for players so that they may not exceed SEK5000 in deposits a week, bonuses cannot be offered at any amount higher than SEK100, and players are obliged to set limits on their time in the casino. These came into force on 2 July, and are due to continue until the end of 2020 – at least as long as the current pandemic continues to affect the possibility of people going outdoors and socializing as normal.

Although generally considered as very harsh measures to be applied across a whole industry, the government has continued with these plans, aiming to implement them in a very short amount of time.
Criticism from the industry

From the beginning when these measures were announced, industry players spoke out against them. Although measures against problem gambling have been implemented across the board in order to meet regulatory requirements, complaints about the restrictions ranged from the damage to the industry and the revenue of gambling companies.

Casino operators were not the only ones with reservations - Spelinspektionen itself has stated that the enforcement of these regulations would be extremely difficult if not impossible. The reason for this is that the limits are imposed upon licenses and not on players. So if a player registers with one casino, deposits SEK5000, and wants to bet more, there is nothing stopping them registering with another licenced casino and doing just the same. This, obviously, is a huge problem when trying to prevent problem gambling, and some fear that it may even drive players to black market casinos.

The dealbreaker

With these issues pointed out, it became obvious that further action needed to be taken – and here the Jämlikhetskommissionen enters the scene. Aiming to avoid players registering for multiple websites to circumvent restrictions, they suggest a central register of players, containing information for operators and the Gaming Inspectorate to see how much a player has deposited in different accounts. Although a good idea in theory, it also comes to a head with another serious concern – privacy and personal data.

A centralized log contains detailed and sensitive private information on players, and as a result the Gaming Inspectorate has not been in favor of the measure. This database would potentially violate both national Swedish law as well as European data privacy laws. As it would involve the government, a public entity, monitoring the individual activity of a user online, this could be against laws on internet freedom.

What’s to come?

Whether Sweden’s government decides to try something else to counteract players who could avoid the law remains to be seen. There is not widespread support for the user database, and pushback from industry leaders as well as a lack of support stemming from the country’s own regulatory body might be enough to quash further development. In fact, when attempting to enforce these regulations, the Gaming Inspectorate found resistance from the financial institutions themselves, as they cannot give out confidential information on their customers. Whether these hiccups will be pushed through at the legislative level still remains to be seen, but it’s clear that there will be a fair amount of pushback no matter which direction these changes take.

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