Swedish Trade Group Wants COVID-19 Gambling Restrictions Lifted

September 9, 2021
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The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) is asking the government to remove COVID-19 related online casino restrictions at the end of the month, in step with the lifting of many other pandemic measures, rather than on November 14.

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The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) is asking the government to remove COVID-19 related online casino restrictions at the end of the month, in step with the lifting of many other pandemic measures, rather than on November 14.

"The main argument from the government for the restrictions was a concern that increased time spent in the home during the pandemic would lead to increased gambling problems. That did not happen,” said secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt.

With the government lifting recommendations to work from home on September 29, among other plans to relax measures, “we believe that the government should lift the temporary restrictions for online casinos on the same date in the name of consistency”, he said.

Lifting of work-from-home suggestions removes one stated reason for the lockdown limits, namely that consumers spending more time at home would drift to online casino, Hoffstedt said.

The online casino restrictions include a deposit limit of 5,000 kronor (€491) per week.

A spring survey by the Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) found that only 19 percent of gamblers played more during the pandemic.

But a Swedish Public Health Agency survey found that gambling problems increased for people who already had problem gambling habits or who had lost their job.

Hoffstedt cited a 2021 study by Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University and Michael Auer of Neccton which suggested that although the number of Swedes gambling online increased when the pandemic hit, the size of the average wager decreased.

The study looked at 133,000 Swedes who placed at least one bet on an online casino site from a large European operator it did not name, between January 1 and May 31, 2020.

On Tuesday, the government announced it was planning to remove most COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, theatres and stadiums on September 29.

One exception is that it may introduce vaccination certificates to regulate large gatherings.

The announcement came with 70 percent of all Swedes above the age of 16 having been vaccinated.

The office of the minister in charge of gambling policy in Sweden, Ardalan Shekarabi, did not return a request for comment before time of publication.

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