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Sweden calling for more online gambling restrictions amid Coronavirus

Bailey Haun
by Bailey Haun

Of course, with a virus out there so contagious as Covid-19 many markets have stopped completely, while others have earned even more profits than before. Some of these markets include the pharmaceutical industry, the online games, and online entertainment industries, and of course the online gambling industry.

The reasons for the increment are very obvious, with a great part of the world in partial or total quarantine the only entertainment available would be online entertainment; as going to a cinema, a restaurant or a casino is not as easy as it used to be, a lot of players that preferred landline casinos over online casinos had felt the need to migrate to them in order to keep enjoying their favorite games.

This exponential increase by the hand of the amount of “free time” that the quarantine gives all of us, this “good news” for online gambling sites can become actual bad news for the population of every country where online gambling is considered legal. 

According to the affiliate marketing specialist “BonusFinder,” there has been a 33% increase in online casino registrations and logins across 17 out of the 60 licensed casinos in Sweden, while a third of this number looked for unlicensed casinos in order to avoid the regulations. 

Even if the actual problem wouldn’t mean a step back in the legal aspects of online gambling, the situation could be detrimental if it continues without any regulations as many players have gone from having a means of entertainment to addiction and this can be really problematic for the governments of those said countries.

Sweden is one of the first countries in the world to recognize these addicted players as a long-term problem, so, in order to avoid a bigger crisis they will soon introduce some regulations to online gambling, for example, the number of players that will be allowed in online casinos. These regulations will be applied during the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.

One of Sweden’s problems is that with the shutdown of sports events due to the new restrictions to avoid the virus from spreading even further, many players are opting for online casinos as a way out to relax, relieve stress and kill some time. According to the Sweden government official since the quarantine started the use of online slot machines (and casino games in general) has rocketed.

According to a survey applied to over 1,000 Sweden citizens that gabled or used to gamble, the general results concluded that even if most of the casual gamblers have reduced their gambling activities since the virus outbreak due to the cancelation of sports events (like football and horse racing) the other side of the coin is that regular gamblers are gambling even more than before. 

The results show that gamblers that only bet once a week are still doing so, while around 28% had increased their gambling activities and 11% said that they were gambling a lot more. The survey also found that 41% of people who bet had recently opened an account on a new online casino since the pandemic started. a third of the surveyed people believed that they were spending too much on the habit or even developing an addiction. 

Another one of the regulations that the Sweden government is planning to implement consists of a limitation to the amount that online gamblers can deposit into their online casino accounts to 5,000 Swedish Krona (around $495) per week. 

A similar limit will be also imposed on losses on any online slot games. Time limit and bonuses received will be also reduced as players will now have a session time limit and the maximum bonus that they can receive can only go up to 100 Swedish Crowns ($9.95). 

And of course, the Sweden Government is aware that these kinds of regulations can cause many unlicensed casinos to be created or gain even more popularity in order to avoid this problem they will also increase the measures to detect and penalize these kinds of casinos. 

This initiative to restrict online gambling in order to avoid the spread of addicted gamblers was also followed by countries like Spain and Belgium, each of them has also restricted or limited online gambling in the case of Spain the measure include the delivery of tax letters from the Spanish tax regulator to around 60,000 traders and holders of cryptocurrencies

On the other hand, countries like Latvia and the UK have also imposed some hard measures. Latvia has decided to completely ban online gambling during the coronavirus lockdown, being one of the most severe measures taken by a country in this situation, while in the UK the measures included the restriction of VIP schemes for players that are less than 25 years old.

These extraordinary measures have affected the shares in online casino firms as their actions will go down some points in the following months after the application of the restrictions on June 1. The proposal will be up for public discussion until May 7. The measures will hopefully expire at the end of 2020.

The shares in the online casino firm Kindred, associated with Trannel International Ltd casinos, were down by 2.5% and the online casino “LeoVegas” went down by 5.4% as well. 

One of the biggest problems of this initiative, as we have mentioned before, is that many online gamblers, in order to avoid the regulations are opting for unlicensed online casinos, but this represents a risk for both the player and the licensed casinos out there. Until now the Sweden government has channelized 75% of the players to the licensing market and they expect to get at least 90% of them.

Sweden has also considered a complete shutdown depending on how the situation develops soon. Right now even with the Coronavirus situation the Sweden Government has applied a “trust” approach where there are no regulations for normal daily activities but rather just recommendations, the Sweden government trust that their citizens will prove that they are a society capable of behaving like adults and without falling into panic and fear. If Sweden continues to go heavily towards over-regulating their markets, it might give rise to unregulated markets especially Bitcoin casinos to fill the demand for players to play. 

However, if the government goes on with the decision of a total shutdown as Latvia did, this could represent a colossal mistake as rather than protecting players, the government will only affect the licensed online casino market while making the black market get even more profits than before. 

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