BonusFinder.com has urged the Swedish government to reconsider its proposals to introduce further restrictions on online gambling as a result of the pandemic or risk long-term consequences of a sharp increase in black market activity.
In a formal response to a consultation on the government’s proposals, BonusFinder warned that introducing stricter measures would lead to a long-lasting diversion of players to unlicensed sites and pose a greater risk to Swedish consumers, legal licensees and the licensed market in the future.
BonusFinder has identified more than 54 unlicensed sites targeting Sweden compared to the 65 licensed operators, with the majority offering online casino. The research conducted by using Google Trends also found the number of searches for unlicensed casino brands targeting Sweden to have risen by 305% in the last 12 months.
The study also discovered that in the last 12 months searches for ‘casino utan licens’ (and other similar terms), saw a 710% growth compared to a 173% increase in ‘online casino’.
In March this year, initial BonusFinder research found that almost a third of Swedish online casino players are searching online for ‘unlicensed casinos’, with growing numbers turning to black-market brands due to the market’s restrictive gaming regulations, introduced in January 2019.
The Swedish government’s new plans include the introduction of stricter bonus limits of SEK100 (€8), as well as mandatory weekly deposit limits of SEK5,000 (€458) that would be in place for an initial six-month period from June 1.
Fintan Costello, Bonusfinder Managing Director, said: “We understand the Swedish government has put forward its proposals with the best intentions to protect its citizens, but as our research has shown, the existing restrictive measures have resulted in a large number of players turning to unlicensed operators outside of the legal framework and without any protection. Channelisation rates are falling and unlicensed brands are booming.
“Our message to the government is to seriously reconsider its proposals. More stringent measures would only serve to further fuel the existing black market. The consequences of these actions would be felt for a long period of time as players lost to the illegal offering would not easily return to regulated sites once measures are lifted.”