As quarantine and social distancing are still being enforced in most countries around the globe, online poker is more popular than ever. But while the masses are enjoying playing games and using available poker welcome bonuses, it appears that not everyone is happy with the situation.
In Sweden, officials are looking into the option of shutting down its regulated online casinos – a temporary solution to fight their fear of gambling addiction during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ardalan Shekerabi, the country’s Minister of Social Security, stated that the country was willing to implement extraordinary measures if the gambling venues don't do enough to protect players themselves, especially in these hard times.
The Dilemma Explained
Although Sweden chose not to impose quarantine on the citizens, people are encouraged to remain at home and practice social distancing. That means that more people are looking into online sources of entertainment, online poker venues included. According to data provided by Spelinspektionen, the Swedish gambling regulator, there has been an increase of 33% in online casino registrations earlier this month.
The government, fearing that cases of gambling addiction will rise dramatically, is seriously contemplating closing all online casinos and poker rooms until further notice. However, experts believe that this is the wrong move to make.
Some people believe that if poker players won’t be able to visit regulated gambling venues, they will move to off-shore and unlicensed casinos. Apart from hurting the industry itself, that means that at-risk players won’t be monitored and won’t be able to get help when needed.
Statistics also show that even at this stage, Swedish casino players are leaning more and more towards the unregulated gambling venues. While Spelinspektionen’s goal is for 90% of the market to consist of regulated casinos, currently, those online casinos only make 75% of the industry.
As gamblers are already more inclined to seek out foreign online casinos, mostly due to better deals and offers, closing Swedish gambling venues can push them even further away from regulated casinos. What does that mean for the gambling industry? Only time will tell.
While the Swedish government still hasn’t made up its mind about what the future holds for regulated casinos, experts are afraid the wrong choice will lead to devastating consequences.