Sweden’s gambling market could end up losing players to international offshore sites after the country’s regulators moved to propose the introduction of stricter online gaming policies. The Swedish watchdog plans to impose strict gambling rules that limit bonuses to SEK100 (US$10) and introduce a mandatory requirement for players to set time limits for their gameplay. Earlier this week, the BOS (Branschföreningen för Onlinespel), the online gambling trade association in the country, published a statement to disapprove the government’s move.
Gustaf Hoffstedt, the BOS secretary-general indicated that online gambling operators with valid licenses issued by Sweden’s Spelinspektionen regulatory commission had already been subjected to more than enough harsh marketing regulations. Currently, VIP bonuses are already prohibited, and offers have been limited to bonuses to new players only in Swedish online casinos.
Gustaf then added that since internationally licensed sites are excluded from the strict rules and hefty taxes imposed by Swedish regulators, players could end up abandoning local sites for the more lucrative bonuses available at the offshore gambling sites. While the local watchdog insists that the strict gambling regulations are in place to protect Swedish players, Hoffstedt believes that the new proposals will end up doing more harm than good to the local industry.
Before the debut of the Swedish regulated gambling market back in January of 2019, the state had projected over 90% market share for locally licensed sites. On launch, the government claimed that the number stood at 91% and that they had reduced to approximately 86% by mid-year.
Should the new policies come into effect, the number is expected to reduce drastically from the current 81-85% rate, according to Copenhagen Economics analysts. The market statistics institution further specified that while popular products like horse-race gambling and lotteries are remaining highly popular in local sites, the online casino rate is as low as 72-78%.
Hoffstedt pointed out that the falling rates meant that the government had so far failed in the balancing act of establishing an effective and equally attractive licensing system that upholds consumer protection. He added that the government’s proposals and implementations on the gambling industry were ‘unhealthy’ and could see the international sites take over the entire market audience.