A Closer Look at Spelpaus – The Two-Sided Coin From the Swedish Gambling Regulation

In 2019, the Swedish Government decided to regulate the Swedish online casino market. As it is likely that India will face a similar regulation in the future, we recently created an article about the fact that the Swedish regulation has failed and explained what can be learnt from it. You can read about this here.

In this particular article, we’re focusing in on a single factor from the Swedish regulation. A responsible gaming tool known as “Spelpaus”. A tool which has proven to be a two-sided coin. A great idea turned into a bit of a nightmare.

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What Is Spelpaus?

Spelpaus is a tool that allow players to block themselves from playing casino online; either for a month, three months, six months or for at least 12 months. This tool is similar to what you will find at gambling sites that are licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority. However, not identical. 

The unique thing about Spelpaus is that once a player is blocked from a casino that offers the Spelpaus feature, he or she will be blocked from all casinos that are offering it. It’s a universal blocking tool. 

With online gambling being regulated in Sweden, the laws state that all casinos that target Swedish players have to offer this feature. It’s a requirement for being licensed by the Swedish “Spelinspektionen”.  

It’s not only the Swedish licensing organization that has introduced a tool that works in a similar way as Spelpaus, but also other countries that have regulated the online casino market. For instance, the UK.

The Player Aiding Idea Behind Spelpaus

The idea behind Spelpaus is undoubtedly great. When a player is gambling too much and realizes that he or she is a problematic gambler, the press of a button will block that player from all casinos. No matter what the player says or does, this block cannot be removed. It was supposed to be a bullet-proof concept, introduced to protect players.  

In lack of facts, we are only able to speculate. However, the Spelpaus feature has probably been successful in many ways. Statistics show that during a 2-year period, approximately 60,000 Swedes used the tool and blocked themselves from playing casino online. This is about 0.6% of the population.

The Dark Reality of Spelpaus

an-dark-reality-behind-spelpaus

Do a Google search that says “casino utan spelpaus”. This means casino without Spelpaus. You will find hundreds of results; all of them more or less the same. The results are sites that are recommending casinos that don’t have the Spelpaus feature. In other words, casinos that aren’t licensed and regulated in Sweden, but still allow Swedes to play. 

Approximately 5,500 people, or 0.055% of the Swedish population, are searching for this exact keyword every month. So, who are these people? Some are regular gamblers who are tired of the downsides of the Swedish regulation and want to find better casinos to play at. 

However, many of them are problematic gamblers that have blocked themselves from playing casino and are now looking for a way around this block. Simply because they can’t help themselves. They’re addicted and have a strong urge of gambling. 

It should be mentioned that some sites that are recommending casinos without Spelpaus are more responsible than others. An example is casinoutanspelpaus.io who are stressing the importance of not gambling if you have a problem. Some other sites do, however, not make any mentions like these at all. 

But what has all of this to do with the Spelpaus feature? 

Nothing is what I used to think. Then it hit me. Before Spelpaus was introduced, there was no single keyword that problematic gamblers used to find a casino. No specific search term. Now there is. Marketeers know exactly how to reach out to this group of players, which of course, are the most profitable ones. The people who don’t know when enough is enough. 

The casino industry has always been filled with a turbulence where on one hand many gambling sites take responsible gaming very seriously. Then on the other hand, there are also casinos ran by people that appear remorseless and happy to be capitalizing on those who have a problem. They look the other way.

However, before Spelpaus, there was no easy way of finding the problematic gamblers. Now there is. 

Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

Giving birth to a search term that singles out problematic gamblers is bad. However, what is worse are the options that the problematic gamblers have to choose from. Casinos that offer their services to Swedish players must be licensed in Sweden. However, these laws can only be enforced on companies that are actually situated in Sweden or have ties to Sweden. 

When a casino is situated in any other part of the world, the Swedish laws do not apply. The casino can simply ignore the license requirement and get away with. The best gambling sites usually don’t do this. We don’t know the exact details of why, but we can think of a couple of valid reasons.  

The casinos may not want to break their ethical and moral code. Or, they don’t want to jeopardize their reputation, being known for not following the rules. It could also be that they don’t want to burn any bridges with Sweden, in case they’re planning on getting a Swedish license in the future. 

The point is, when a problematic gambler is searching for a casino without Spelapaus, he or she will probably not find the best casinos. The player is likely to find gambling sites that aren’t aware of the Swedish regulation or casinos that do not care about it. Neglect and lack of knowledge is just as bad. 

Taking a look at gambling sites that are listed as casinos without Spelpaus, the vast majority do not offer any responsible gaming tools at all. Players cannot set deposit limits and while it may be possible to block themselves, they would be required to speak with the customer support to do so. 

Whether a casino is intentionally trying to exploit a problematic gambler or not, many of the casinos without Spelpaus are definitely not safe for someone who has a problem with gambling. 

Would It Be Better If Spelpaus Didn’t Exist?

We don’t know. However, one could argue that it would. If Spelpaus didn’t exist, problematic players would only be able to block themselves from one casino at a time. The one they are playing at. Of course, if they wanted to continue playing, they would just google search for a new casino

The difference is, there wouldn’t be a single search term targeting these problematic gamblers. Secondly, many of the casinos that would be recommended on such a search would be quality casino sites. It would be casinos that have responsible gaming tools in place and are trained to spot and handle problematic gamblers. Certainly not gambling sites that are clueless or don’t give a crap. 

Not All Casinos Without Spelpaus Are Bad

While we have highlighted a dark reality of Spelpaus, it should be mentioned that there are legitimate and responsible gambling sites that aren’t licensed in Sweden. Quality casinos without Spelpaus that offer their services to Swedish players.

This is because the Swedish regulation failed in many ways. As you can read about in this article, rules that were introduced created a really poor player experience. The regulation killed the market and heavily reduced the profits of all of the best and Swedish licensed casinos. Simply because Swedes don’t want play at these sites who have to follow a bunch of ridiculous rules. 

Naturally, this has resulted in these top-quality sites looking for a way around the license requirement. They’re not interested in exploiting problematic gamblers. They simply want their players back and offer the same quality experience as they did before the Swedish license was introduced.

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