Despite Growth in Newly Liberalised Sweden, Some Monopolistic Signs LingerPublished June 4, 2020 by Lee R
Sweden's liberalised market could use more liberal deposit limits to protect consumers.
The Swedish government has made some curious exceptions for new consumer protections.
The Exceptions on Limits
The authority in the emerging liberalised market has announced plans to exclude sports betting and horseracing betting from newly updated deposit limit proposals targeting increased consumer protection.
This leaves only online casino gaming liable for the SEK5,000 (£415) a week deposit limit, according to the Swedish Ministry for Social Affairs.
The Original Controversial Proposal
The exceptions follow Health Minister Ardalan Shekarabi's controversial submission of weekly deposit limit proposals of 5000 SEK (€500) and €100 on welcome bonuses.
Objections to New Policy
Concerns about the proposals' transparency and logic have already been raised by leading figures: Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) Secretary-General Gustaf Hoffstedt called “the new suggestion is impossible to understand from a consumer protection perspective.”
According to Hoffstedt, the majority of Sweden's state horseracing firm ATG's board members are government appointees.
Most Vulnerable Market
The COVID-19 period saw an explosion in horse race betting while other online casinos experienced little or no growth at all.
Hoffstedt called the exceptions a clear sign that “the Government’s actions despite its rhetoric has nothing to do with consumer protection, but rather to do with an aim to provide benefits to gambling companies that are closely connected to the Government.”
The Source of the Problem
Hoffstedt is ultimately lamenting the fact that the deposit limits are being imposed on areas where there is little activity, and thus minimal segments of vulnerable populations—like applying a band aid to a healed wound when the source of inflammation remains elsewhere, as in the booming horseracing market.
Meanwhile, despite Covid Sweden's new market showed encouraging signs of growth: Q1 2020's combined revenue of SEK3.66bn (£307m) represents a 7% year-on-year increase, according Swedish Gambling Authority data; and a 5% increase in self-excluded players across both online and land-based gaming from the previous quarter.
Despite growth, the selective deposit limits proposed in Sweden indicate monopoly habits are still dying hard.