Sweden has imposed deposit limits for sports betting

  • The Swedish government is proposing a €500 (~$550) limit on weekly online casino deposits and a €100 (~$110) limit on deposit bonuses, but these restrictions might not apply to sports and horse betting.
  • This proposal is an attempt to reduce problem gambling behavior during the pandemic, when more people are stuck at home with few entertainment options.
  • The horse racing and sports industries have been greatly harmed COVID-19, which could be the reason for their exclusion from the proposal.
  • Gustaf Hoffstedt, the Secretary-General for the Industry Association of Online Games, has suggested that the government could have ulterior motives for specifically excluding sports and horse betting from the new proposals.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Swedish Health Minister Ardalan Shekarabi proposed a weekly deposit limit of 5000 SEK (~$510) and a 1000 SEK (~$110) limit on welcome bonuses for online casinos.

Reports have suggested that legal sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering could both be excluded from this restriction.

This proposal is ostensibly about preventing consumers from practicing problematic gambling habits during the quarantine.

Many consumers have indicated a desire to decrease their spending on gambling, but the combination of quarantine and a vacuum of entertainment options could lead to a sharp increase in gambling for some consumers.

Sports betting revenues around the world have decreased sharply as leagues have suspended play to slow the progression of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Protecting these affected industries would be a strong incentive for excluding them from the weekly deposit limit proposal. Not all agree with this notion, however.

Opposition To The Deposit Limit Proposal

According to Gustaf Hoffstedt, the Secretary-General of the Industry Association of Online Games (BOS), the statistics don’t support the exclusion of horse and sports betting.

“Since the first governmental suggestions were presented,” said Hoffstedt. “We have received data from the Swedish Gambling Authority and Swedish Tax Authority showing that online casino sales have not increased during COVID-19, whereas horse betting has exploded.”

“Against all rationality, the government now wants to exclude horse betting from further regulation whereas online casinos shall receive further restrictions.”

Hoffstedt went on to claim that the Swedish government is avoiding placing restrictions on horse betting because it maintains close ties with the leadership at ATG, a prominent Swedish horse racing company, where the majority of Board members are government-appointed.

It is unclear if there are similar ties between the Swedish government and the sports betting industry.

Hoffstedt’s allegations are harsh, but if accurate, they paint the government’s proposal in a new light. They suggest that members of the government are protecting their own business interests rather than the interests of consumers.

Of course, Hoffstedt isn’t exactly a neutral party either. As Secretary-General for BOS, he represents over 20 different private gambling firms that stand to lose revenue because of the restriction on weekly deposits and deposit bonuses.

For now, the deposit limit proposals remain just that—proposals. The government will likely deliberate extensively on the matter before deciding about whether or not to full deposit limit legislation.

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