Lower Deposit Limits for Swedish Players

Lower Deposit Limits for Swedish Players

Covid-19 has been the culprit of many restrictions over the last two years – gambling in Sweden is one of them. Weekly deposits at online casinos were capped at SEK 5,000 from June 2020 to November 2021 in an attempt to control online gambling. While this was originally supposed to be a short-term measure, the cap was repeatedly extended due to the high Covid-19 numbers.

The increase of Omicron cases has caused the Swedish government to rethink the relaxation of gambling restrictions. On the 4th of January 2022, Sweden’s Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi, announced that Swedish players will only be able to deposit SEK 4,000 a week – an even lower amount than the original measure. This regulation will be enforced from the 7th of February 2022 until the 30th of June 2022. The government believes this will control gambling, stating that the pandemic is increasing the risk of problematic gambling due to quarantine and lockdowns.

Online casinos will still need to limit their welcome bonuses to SEK 100 and physical slot machines will have a new loss limit of SEK 4,000. Players will also have to set daily, weekly, and monthly limits. They must also record the time they are logged into their casino account.

To prevent players from finding loopholes, operators will have 96 hours to contact players when they set higher limits to control maximum spending and deposits.

All these measures are designed to complement the other Covid-19 restrictions. Swedish citizens are required to work from home, need a valid vaccination certificate to attend mass events, and are not allowed to congregate in groups of more than eight people.

Budget and debt counselors are reporting an increase in citizens suffering from financial issues due to problematic gambling. This could be due to the fact that many Swedish citizens have lost their income or are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, thus trying to find a solution through online gambling.

Spelinspektionen did not oppose to these new measures. However, the gambling authority is concerned about their introduction. It claims that it is still to early to know if the spike in Omicron cases had an impact on gamblers. Spelinspektionen also pointed out that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to enforce the SEK 4,000 cap across all online casino operators in Sweden.

Furthermore, these measures prevent online casinos from identifying problematic gaming as players can still open accounts at different unlicensed casinos, as stated by Gustaf Hoffstedt, Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS) Secretary-General. He urged the government to reconsider its decision and to put consumer protection first.

Looking at other EU states, Finland will be introducing payment blockings for online casinos in 2023. This will prevent Finnish players from accessing new Finnish online casinos as they will not be able to use the payment service providers (PSP) available. Opposing views criticized this, asking the government to regulate online gambling in Finland rather than restricting players to Finnish-only online casinos.

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