We often come across news items regarding big wins at online gambling websites. These wins are often nabbed by online slots players, and we are talking about millions of Kroner, not just trifling wins. But, despite the fact that the Swedish winters are long, and online gambling is a fun way to spend those long, lonely, dark, endless nights, the Swedish Prime Minister is taking his life in his hands by proposing changes to gaming laws.
The motivation for the changes is apparently due to some stats release by the National Audit Office. The stats were released in June 2012, and changes are scheduled to be implemented by mid-2014. According to the news report, there has been an “increase in pathological gambling has been identified among certain groups of gamblers”.
While legislation will be implemented to take away certain gambling freedoms a couple of years down the line; it pays to remember that time flies fast when you are having fun, and online gambling is nothing more than having a little harmless fun. If problem gamblers are on the increase, then people are the problem, not gambling per se. This is something we have always maintained, but the real issue seems to be that competition between illegal or unauthorised gambling providers seems to be the main cause of Swedish residents gambling problems. Again, it seems to us, that people are the problem not gambling itself.
By the 31st May of this year we should know exactly what proposed law changes will be. But we have absolutely no doubt that online gambling will be affected. Changes in regulations will more than likely affect high risk areas the most, and as online gambling is a numbers game, with more numbers than ever before playing these games, it stands to reason this industry will be targeted.
However, there is some light at the end of the dark tunnel of those cold lonely nights for the Swedes. It is perceived that current legislation is simply weak in the area of social protections, so the aim is to strengthen these weaknesses, not institute outright bans. Bans in countries which disallow gambling online are often perceived to be bans on access to information, as well as an infringement of rights to choice. No radical overhaul of the present systems is to be expected.
Even state-controlled Svenska Spel was named in the report, and they are one of the very few “legal” Swedish gambling providers. Here it is interesting to note that they also have a very strong online presence. They offer bingo, casino games, sports betting and poker; live and online as well as throughout the entire Swedish entertainment industry, which means restaurants and pubs, as well as bingo halls – the lot.
They have been offering online poker through the Boss Media (now GTECH G2) platform since 2005, which makes them the only authorised product in Sweden, so, where does the “competition” factor come in? Apparently residents have easy access to all kinds of online gambling sites, so, all the Swedish Government need do is require fair individual licensing and regulation, just like nearly all of the EU.
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