Gambling Time Limit in Sweden – Is This a Viable Option?

Sep 14, 2020


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Various scientific studies done over the years have shown that gambling can lead to addiction in a similar way as drugs or alcohol. In Sweden, it is estimated that as much as 2% of all adults suffer from gambling addiction, with 0.4% of the population suffering from severe addiction, which are concerning numbers to say the least. 

Gambling is a favorite pastime for many Swedes and while many of them are able to restrict it to just casual gambling sessions, others fall prey to the addiction. In 2017, it was estimated that only a small fraction of the entire player base in the country contributed over 50% of the total spend at online casinos, showing that severe gamblers can get into serious trouble with the addiction. 

Since Swedish players have a great number of quality casinos available, such as the ones at, it is understood that online casinos are the number one reason for problem gambling in the country.  Now that it has become perfectly clear that Sweden has problems with gambling addiction, time has come to look for viable solutions. Increasing taxes or banning gambling altogether would likely lead to an explosion of illegal gambling, so alternative solutions must be found.

Equality Commission Calls for Time Limits

According to a recent report published by the Equality Commission (Jämlikhetskommissionen), there is a perfectly good solution to the Swedish gambling addiction problem. This solution stands in the model of time limitations, which would make it only possible for a person to gamble a certain amount of time during a 24 hour period. 

Time limits have been tried and tested in other countries and with other types of addictive behaviors, such as China restricting the amount of hours a person can play popular online video games in any given day. This model clearly shows success and while some people may be able to get around it, it is one that is likely to show results in the long run.

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In addition to this, the same report also tackled the way gambling is advertised. Right now, gambling sites are able to advertise as fun and cool without any downsides. Instead, the report suggests that companies should be forced to add warnings to their ads, similar to the ones forced upon tobacco companies. Messages such as “most people who gamble lose money” or “gambling addiction increases the risk of suicide” would be a good step towards discouraging people to gamble excessively. 

Since advertising is the number one way most people get into gambling in Sweden, restrictions on the gambling ads and the time limit for every person, IP and household would certainly go a long way towards reducing the number of problem gamblers in the country. 

Complete Ban a Possibility?

It may seem like a logical step that once something becomes a problem, you simply ban it by law. However, we have seen in the past that simply outlawing something doesn’t make it go away and instead simply transfers it into the gray zone. Things like drugs and prostitution are illegal but widely present in many countries of the world and people gamble even in places where gambling is strictly prohibited by law. 

Allowing for an increase in illegal gambling would not be a good idea for Sweden at all and keeping things well regulated is always the best way to make an activity as safe as possible. Gambling is highly hazardous as is, but putting it in the hands of the wrong people would make it that much more dangerous. 

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Of course, the same danger exists with time limitations. If time limits are imposed at legal Swedish online casinos, there is nothing stopping criminals from launching illegal sites and preying on the weakest people whose addiction will keep them playing anywhere they are allowed to. It is for this reason that the Swedish authorities must be extremely cautious with imposing restrictions as sometimes the consequences of such actions can be worse in the long run. 

Are Deposit Limits Enough?

Most recently, the Swedish government imposed a mandatory limit on weekly deposits a player can make at licensed casinos, which stands at 5.000 SEK per month. With this limit, even the most severe addicts will not be able to deposit an excessive amount of money into their online casino wallets, which will surely help reduce the problem. 

However, this measure was imposed due to the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic and it remains to be seen if it will persist once the virus is put under control. It would appear that this measure along may be enough to help with problem gambling but the poorest members of the population may still be overly exposed even with it in place. As things continue to develop, Swedish authorities will have a lot to contemplate if they are to put the scourge of addictive gambling under control. 

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