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Sweden – Kindred CEO condemns Swedish government policy as ‘a step in the wrong direction’

By - 25 November 2020

Kindred Group has condemned the steps taken by the Swedish government in prolonging the validity on enhanced player protections as a result of Covid-19. In its opinion, Kindred believes there is a lack of fact-based decisions being taken and worry that the government’s policy is the opposite than the one decided by the Swedish Parliament.

Kindred say the Swedish government, seven months after the restrictions were first suggested, has not accounted for any facts that supports the need for the restrictions nor for any findings that supports their assumptions.

Furthermore, Kindred highlights that the government has not taken any measures to induce Swedish gambling customers to choose licensed operators instead of unlicensed. Kindred also points out that the statements made by the government about unlicensed operators being illegal are not correct, which the government already knew in 2018 when the Gambling Act was handed over to the Parliament.

”During these seven months that the restrictions have been in place, the Swedish government have not been taking any measures to determine the level of channelisation, they have not accounted for any measures against unlicensed operators in Sweden, and they cannot present any notable connections between the pandemic and increased problem gambling in Sweden at licensed Swedish operators,” commented Henrik Tjärnström, CEO Kindred Group.

“What we can see is a lower channelisation and an increased activity at unlicensed operators with zero consumer protection. That is a step in the wrong direction, and it is not the gambling policy decided by the Swedish Parliament.”

Kindred released the following list of comments in its opinion on the memorandum:

  • The government refers to an assumption of increased problem gambling to prolong the temporary restrictions but cannot, seven months after the restrictions were first suggested, show any evidence that supports their assumption.
  • The government claimed at the start of the Gambling Act, that general limits for the players were not an effective way to meet the need of protection. Instead, they claimed that individual limits set by the players themselves was the right method. No facts on why the government now are acting in the opposite way has been presented.
  • Support organisations, and others with knowledge of gambling and problem gambling, cannot account for any notable connections between the pandemic and an increase in problem gambling in Sweden at licensed Swedish operators.
  • The government has not taken any precautions to map the decreasing channelisation level, which is the most likely effect av the restrictions. A channelisation level that, even before the temporary restrictions, was below 72-78 per cent for online casino. They do not mention this in the referred proposition either.
  • The government do not account for any measures towards unlicensed gambling and disregards the fact that unlicensed gambling sites that do not target Swedish customers, by not using Swedish language and currency, are in fact according to the Gambling Act lawful.
  • The government has two means to increase the share of gambling that are under Swedish control: to create fair conditions for gambling customers to choose to play at licensed operators, and to make the access to play at unlicensed operators more difficult. The government does neither.
  • The goal for the re-regulation of gambling in Sweden is at least 90 per cent channelisation three years after the introduction, which will not be fulfilled. The reform increasingly appears to be yet another of Swedish gambling policy’s many regulation failures.
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