In its annual review of the Swedish Government’s performance, the Riksdag’s Constitutional Committee (Konstitutionsutskottet/KU) found that Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi’s comments regarding gambling were not based on trusted sources, but based on sources that it claimed were “misleading”, two weeks previous.
On 23rd April 2020, Mr Shekrabi claimed that gambling is increasing in Sweden and that “what we see now is a dangerous cocktail of several circumstances that risk the increase of problem gambling and gambling addiction”.
“The picture of this problematic situation is further strengthened when we see the gambling statistics available. Here, there are indications of increased gambling on the most dangerous games.”
The KU released a report which stated that “the review shows that the Government has based its statement on information that does not provide space for any definite conclusion as to whether or not gambling had increased”.
“The Minister for Social Security is responsible for his opinions and thus also for the information he provides” it continued.
The report also contained data from the Swedish gaming regulator (Spelinspekionen) suggesting that gaming sales were down six per cent in March 2020 which was mirrored in data from April.
The Swedish Government implemented regulations that included a SEK5,000 (€476) weekly deposit limit on online games and put limits on playing time and restricted bonuses in June 2020.
The secretary general of the Swedish industry association for online games (BOS) Gustaf Hoffstedt believes the Minister’s comments led to the deposit cap and related measures’ deadline to be extended.
Mr Hoffstedt commented that “the Minister’s statements about the alleged but unfounded increase in online casinos during the pandemic are the main reason why this form of gambling is still subject to very strict temporary restrictions”.
“The next step must reasonably be for the government to quickly end these restrictions,” he added. “Ministers must have a basis for their statements, it is not enough to say things just because it fits into the policy you want to pursue.”
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