Sweden will take back online gaming restrictions when the omicron variant of covid-19 begins to make its presence known in the country. Restrictions had been introduced during the first wave, but this time they were tightened. The country claims that measures are needed to combat an increase in online gambling during the pandemic, despite the fact that a study on the subject has not yet been completed. For Spelinspektionen, the country’s gaming supervisory authority, it makes sense to reverse the measures.
Gambling Inspectorate Online Gaming Back on Restrictions
Temporary restrictions are reintroduced for Sweden’s online games as the government and the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate are concerned about the spread of the covid-19 omicron variant. The restrictions are expected to be introduced from February 7 and will last for at least four months.
Temporary measures were implemented in June 2020 in response to the rapid spread of covid-19 in the region. At that time, the weekly deposit limit was SEK 5,000 ($ 496) and a ceiling of SEK 100 ($ 44) was placed on bonus offers. In addition, there was a limit to how much time you could spend playing online.
This time, in light of the latest developments in Sweden, the measures now include a lower weekly limit for deposits of SEK4,000 ($ 444). The time limits and bonus offers will also be limited.
The measures were introduced by Ardalan Shakarabi, Sweden’s Minister of Health and Social Affairs. It was said that the lockdown situation is a dangerous combination of many circumstances that can increase the likelihood of gambling addiction.
Camilla Rosenberg, Director General of the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate Rosenberg stated that she did not have to comment but that she did not oppose the reinstatement of the temporary liability measures. But she said it was too early for her department to comment on the future and the ongoing effects of the policy.
Much criticism of the measures
Shekarabi has been criticized for his decisions. On the other hand, the Swedish Industry Association for Online Games (BOS, for its Swedish acronym) has been the loudest.
BOS Secretary General Gustaf Hoffstedt believes that the new restrictions make it more difficult for operators to protect their users. Instead of following the rules, online players are looking for alternatives, including offshore platforms.
On November 14 last year, the temporary game restrictions were lifted. However, Shekarabi requested that the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate evaluate the safety of online games as part of the relaxation of the rules. The assignment will be carried out in consultation with the Swedish Public Health Agency, the Swedish Consumer Agency and the Swedish Enforcement Agency.
The Swedish Gaming Inspectorate maintains that the evaluation is still ongoing, with an end date of 15 March. However, it was stated that it is too early for any definitive conclusions. This seems to indicate that the implementation of the rules, and the reduction of the expenditure framework, is not based on any facts or verifiable research.