The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has blasted a new Swedish report that has suggested new regulations, saying that it would threaten the success of Sweden’s regulated market.
The association has been speaking out following the recommendations made by the Gambling Marketing Commission, including advertising controls and spending caps, as part of a plan to improve player protection standards.
The EGBA say that the proposals, which are the latest changes to be put forward since regulation went live in January 2019, would not boost player protection in Sweden and would instead potentially lead to a greater level of risk. In a statement about the proposals, they outlined their concerns:
“EGBA is concerned that the frequency and scope of regulatory changes in Sweden jeopardises the overall success of the country’s online gambling regulation and its ability to provide Swedes with a safe, attractive and regulated online environment where they can bet.”
The association went on to add that regular changes had already occurred in Sweden since the licensed gambling market was launched at the start of 2019 and that further changes served to create an unstable environment for licensees in the country.
Among the Commission’s recommendations was the suggestion that the deposit cap on casino games that was initially introduced as a temporary measure and then extended in November, should be made permanent. They also called for regulator Spelinspektionen to step up efforts to clarify the duty of care that was expected of operators in their dealing with customers. This includes a ban on advertising during the daytime, which they feel would help to protect players from products that are considered to be the most harmful, such as slots.
But the EGBA said the continuation of the cap was an especially problematic recommendation as it may prove a boost to the unregulated market. The statement from the Association said that although they were well intentioned, generically imposed deposit limits, will encourage many customers, including those displaying problematic gambling behaviour, to leave the regulated market and to choose to play on black market websites which enable them to avoid the cap.
As a result, they said that there was a considerable consumer protection risk from black market gambling as these illegal sites are easy to access and do not apply any limits or responsible gambling measures, such as the self-exclusion registers supported by regulated operators.
The EGBA also pointed to a recent survey commissioned by the regulator which found Swedish players displayed limited understanding of the differences between the legal and illegal markets, with only around 5% of those surveyed saying they knew how to check that a site was legal.
The Secretary General of the EGBA, Maarten Haijer said that industry operators accepted their responsibility to protect customers, and that there was an ongoing effort to assess what more can be done, but that the best way to protect gambling customers was to ensure that they play inside the regulated market with operators who licensed in and who follow Swedish consumer protection laws.
The EGBA did welcome some of the recommendations put forward in the report, most notably for a new licensing system for gambling industry suppliers.