Lawmakers in Stockholm have recently passed new legislation aimed at opening up its private gambling industry. Up until now, the only betting site licensed in Sweden was the state-owned Svenska Spel, which operated as a government monopoly in the country’s regulated gambling market. However, now that Sweden has opened its arms to private casinos, dozens of online casinos and sports betting sites have applied for licenses to run betting operations within the jurisdiction.
Effective regulation is key to a robust and well-supported gambling market. The best way to channel gamblers to locally-licensed sites is by ensuring that people feel financially and personally secure when placing their bets. To facilitate the development of a robust domestic gambling market, Sweden has decided to follow the lead established by neighboring countries to open up its gaming industry for more private activity.
Until this point, many Swedish bettors placed bets with offshore providers, as the laws did not directly address the legality of such. However, this past June, Sweden’s national legislature voted in favor of a government proposal to re-regulate the gambling market. Among other things, the law included new rights and privileges for private gambling companies, as well as the introduction of a new licensing system.
The main points of Sweden’s new gambling laws focus on all types of gambling that takes place in Sweden or is conducted by Swedish players, both online and offline. Private gambling companies operating in the country will be licensed by the national gaming authority in one of six categories – state owned gaming, public purpose, commercial online gambling, betting, commercial land-based, and cruise ship games – and most companies will have to pay an 18% tax for commercial gaming.
However, the new policy also includes a 0% tax rate for non-profit gambling activities and establishes an 18-year age limit on online betting. This opens online gambling markets to the millions of young people who can not yet gain entry to 21+ establishments.
By opening up a regulated gambling market, Sweden is hoping to both stimulate the industry while simultaneously curbing fraud, corruption, and crime. The new policy imposes stringent regulations to protect gamblers placing bets in Sweden, including rules regarding advertising claims. It also creates a new criminal offense called “Cheating and Gambling,” that is designed to deter match fixing.
The Swedish Gambling Authority is now accepting license applications for the new law, which will be officially set in force on January 1st 2019. And as a result of these new laws, Sweden is becoming more attractive as an international gaming hub. Already, Sweden’s gambling regulator has received over 60 applications from companies looking to operate in the new regulated gambling market for 2019, 55 of which were for casinos and sportsbooks.
Sweden’s new law is far-reaching, and it includes direct requirements and prohibitions on casino operators. For example, private gaming establishments are only allowed to offer a one-time welcome bonus to customers, ending daily specials and collection loyalty point for cash bonuses and free spins. This policy was created in hopes that customers will find and join new casinos at regular intervals rather than staying with one casino, spreading the wealth across the industry.
Of course, the Swedish casino goldrush has not been without its challenges. Regulators have had trouble with some inaccurate or incorrectly filled-out applications. Sweden’s national gaming agency has taken these challenges in stride, recognizing that changes in law naturally come with a learning curb. However, Sweden’s new law will no doubt establish a robust regulated private gambling market in the country.