Kindred Slams Restriction Plans For Sweden’s Gaming Industry

The plans to introduce more restrictions on the Swedish gaming industry were slammed by the Kindred Group, with CEO Henrik Tjärnström warning that the steps will be a step in the wrong direction.’

Kindred expressed concern in a statement about the lack of a ‘notable connection’ between the pandemic and problem gambling rates. The operator also noted that the agenda of the government is the opposite of that agreed by the Swedish Parliament.

Tjärnström said: “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.

“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.”

Earlier this month, Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister of Social Insurance, highlighted his worries regarding “continued gambling risks,” announcing that the government has opened a consultation on extending the industry’s “temporary restrictions” until 30 June 2021.

Proposals submitted for consultation until 23 November 2020 included an extension of the SEK 5,000 deposit limit for online casino games, the time limits for playing and the SEK 100 bonus offer limit. The consultation results are yet to be released.

Kindred, however, hitting back on the proposals, claims that the Swedish government has not taken any precautions to chart the declining level of channelling, which the operator has claimed is the most likely consequence of the restrictions.

The group’s opinion agreed that the target for the reregulation of gambling in Sweden is at least 90 percent channelling three years after the launch, which will not be reached.’ This reform, said Kindred, ‘increasingly appears to be yet another of Swedish gambling policy’s many regulation failures’.

In addition, Kindred also emphasised that no action has been taken by the government to encourage Swedish gambling customers to choose to gamble through licenced operators.

The declaration added: “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.”

Earlier in the year, proposals introduced faced a torrent of criticism from both betting and gaming operators as well as the gambling regulator of the country, Spelinspektionen.

Spelinspektionen warned against the restrictions in July, saying that the deposit limit of SEK 5,000 would have a marginal impact on reducing the number of gamblers during the pandemic.

In addition, it cautioned that if they were to gamble through unlicensed operators, players would have access to less consumer security measures, something that becomes more likely if deposit and time limits are enforced.