Government considers ‘extreme measures’ as activity rises amid COVID-19 restrictions but closures would drive more players to unlicensed sites instead of protecting them
9th April, 2020 – The Swedish government’s threat to temporarily shut down licensed online casinos would have a disastrous effect on the industry and drive thousands more players to the black market, BonusFinder.com has warned.
The minister in charge of gambling policy, Ardalan Shekarabi, this week warned that “extraordinary measures” would be implemented if operators do not take action to slow the increase in igaming activity seen in the last two weeks, as people are told to stay at home because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to new data from Sweden’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, there has been a 33% increase in registrations and logins to play online casino games with 17 of the 60 licensed operators in the country in the last 14 days.
Last month, Swedish market research carried out by BonusFinder.com found that almost a third of Swedish online casino players are searching for ‘unlicensed casinos’, with growing numbers turning to black-market brands due to the market’s restrictive gaming regulations, introduced in January 2019.
Instead of protecting players, a shutdown of online casino brands, however, is likely to lead to thousands more players searching for and depositing funds on unlicensed sites, as well as causing further financial damage to licensed operators, according to BonusFinder.com.
Fintan Costello, Managing Director, Bonusfinder.com, said: “The Swedish government will make a colossal mistake if it chooses to temporarily close down online casino sites in an attempt to protect players. As our research has shown, almost a third of online casino players are already looking to the black market for a more attractive offering since restrictive rules were imposed in January 2019. These latest plans would create an immediate black-market boom.
“Swedish legislation requires operators to have strict responsible gambling procedures in place, therefore the right measures are already there. The focus should instead be on ensuring these are adhered to rather than taking a knee jerk reaction to close down all legitimate brands and forcing even more players to unprotected sites.”