Today Kindred submitted our written response to the Swedish government’s proposal for yet another set of temporary restrictions on licensed online gambling due to the ongoing pandemic. The previous restrictions ended on the 14th of November 2021. In short, Kindred’s overall assessment is that the measures weaken rather than strengthen consumer protection, which is the stated objective of the proposed restrictions. The restrictions will obstruct licensees’ duty of care and impact channelization negatively, something even representatives for gambling addiction organisations have noticed. Kindred emphasises in our response to the Swedish government not to move ahead with the proposal.
Comparing the Swedish response to the pandemic with that of other countries has truly been a rollercoaster ride. While it is our opinion that the government’s response to the pandemic has in general been pragmatic and enabled the Swedish society to be as open as possible, the restrictions on the online gambling industry have been ill-founded and did not meet the criteria of evidence-based policymaking. The minister in charge, Ardalan Shekarabi, even got reprimanded by the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution for groundlessly claiming that gambling on online casinos had increased during the pandemic.
The current proposal for gambling restrictions fails to establish explicit facts and concrete evidence as a base for the decision. In contrast to our recent and positive response to the same government’s investigation report on match-fixing and unlicensed gambling, we struggle to find anything affirmative to ascribe to the ministry’s proposal.
Our main objections to the measures are that they make it more difficult for licensed gambling companies to fulfil their duty of care and have a negative impact on channelling by encouraging gambling with unlicensed operators. Requirement to introduce added measures, such as a 96-hour lock out-rule, on top of previously implemented measures within a very short time frame risks leading to a low-quality implementation of the measures and a random distortion of competition in the Swedish gambling market.
If the Swedish government, despite the serious objections raised, decides to move ahead with temporary gambling responsibility measures, the simplest and least problematic solution would be to impose exactly the same measures that applied during the previous restriction period.