Gambling in Sweden – Updates on Laws and Legislation

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Rolling red dice on a casino table with chips

Without a doubt, the gambling sector is well and truly thriving. It is a billion-dollar industry, after all, so we’re not really surprised here! As the years go by, more and more casino operators are setting up thrilling platforms to compete within this ever-growing industry.

Sweden is no exception. In fact, the market has done quite well over the last few years. That said, it’s important to note that players and service providers still need to abide by the rules and regulations that are currently imposed.

Bearing this in mind, we will delve into the ins and outs of some Swedish gambling laws, in particular the re-regulation of the market. We will discuss how all this is affecting the market, operators, and players.

Insights on Gambling in Sweden

Sweden to fight problem gambling | Focus Gaming News

Interestingly, gambling in Sweden knows its roots in the 11th century. It all started when the Vikings conquered the land. Rumour has it that the Swedes played a dice game to settle some land disputes with the Norwegians. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Fast forward to 2021, the Swedish market is gaining more and more traction. And with good reason! Given that brands like Kindred Group own top casinos such as Unibet and Betsson, we can see why players have expressed an interest in trying their hand out at their favorite online casino games.

Currently, there are only four land-based venues in the country, all of which are located in Sundsvall, Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Malmo. Visitors are treated to a wide range of classic slot machines, thrilling table games, and an overall experience that exceeds your expectations.

You can also choose to sign up for an online casino. In this regard, you’re well and truly spoiled for choice. According to industry experts, the market is expected to hit more targets. In fact, the online gambling market alone is expected to exceed the €572.4m mark by the end of 2021. If that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is!

Sweden’s Gambling Laws Explained

Kindred: Decision to extend Swedish gambling restrictions “step in the  wrong direction”

It’s all fun and games until it comes to understanding Sweden’s particular legislation. So, let’s backtrack a little. In case you don’t know, the Swedish government set up the state gambling monopoly in the year 1934. As you can imagine, the main objective of this was to ban illegal gambling activities.

Whilst it perhaps made sense at the time, we are now living in the era of the internet and advanced technologies. In other words, governments from all over the world need to draw up decent gambling laws that make sense in this day and age.

Considering the fact that Sweden remained a state monopoly up until 2018, this caused a lot of problems throughout the years. For starters, Swedish players were only allowed to place bets at the aforementioned venues or cruise ships.

As more debates sparked between casino operators and lawmakers, something had to be done. In fact, it became harder for the government to still abide by the rules of the state monopoly due to the fact that online gambling became increasingly more popular.

The year 2002 marked the significant moment in Sweden’s gambling history where online gambling became legal. Of course, more laws were introduced that would allow operators to be part of this competitive market by advertising their product and ultimately, selling the service to registered players.

All this contributed to an increased interest in the online gambling world – and we can see why! If you don’t feel like visiting a casino, you can simply log on from your desktop or mobile phone, and just like that, you’re a few clicks away from a stellar gaming experience packed with top games, generous bonuses, and big wins.

Needless to say, this made it hard for Svenska Spel to keep abiding by regulations that are centuries old. Again, keep in mind that the state monopoly was established 87 years ago – obviously, the rules established back then are not as relevant nowadays.

Svenska Spel also faced a lot of pressure from the European Commission. Representatives believed that this was causing a lot of harm to the market due to the fact that it was limiting competition from industry operators from across the globe.

Eventually, lawmakers had to come up with fair solutions that would make sense in this day and age. They realized that the Swedish market was losing shares to international casino operators and that in general, the state monopoly just didn’t make sense anymore.

In 2018, the state monopoly was abolished and the new rules came into effect on 1st January 2019. Since then, the Swedish Gambling Authority has been allowing more and more private online casino operators to operate within the market.

In the long run, this was extremely beneficial to the Swedish market. For starters, one had to take into consideration that an unregistered market was offering its services. Secondly, the country started to benefit from the taxes made once the new laws came into effect.

Key Points from the Re-Regulation

Operators line up for new Swedish gambling licenses - USA Online Casino

Throughout this post, we’ve outlined that players should face no problems with accessing their favorite casino games. In fact, all Swedish players have free rein to create a casino account as long as the provider in question has a valid Swedish license. Once that’s out of the way, you can start placing bets on slots, table games, and so on.

In short, the creation of an online casino account and betting, in general, aren’t considered criminal offenses. Are you with us so far? Great.

Things are a little different if you’re a casino operator. Following Sweden’s new gambling legislation (SFS 2018:1138) that came into on 1st January 2019, operators had to abide by stricter rules. Of course, this affected a number of companies that are part of the market.

Regardless, this is non-negotiable; if you want to set up shop in Sweden, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Gaming Companies need to pay 18% tax for commercial gaming
  • Six different licenses are offered for different services
  • 0% tax for charitable gambling events
  • License prices vary – 400,000 – 700,000 SEK
  • Operators cannot offer credits to players
  • The legal gambling age is 18+ to play online and 21+ to play at a land-based casino.
State-owned games Casino games, slot games, and some lottery Target for state-owned companies
Public purpose games Some lottery games Reserved for non-profit organizations
Commercial online games Online casino games, slot machines and bingo Operators that offer the service in question.
Betting Online and land-based betting Operators that offer the service in question.
Commercial land-based games Slot games and card games outside a casino Operators that offer the service in question.
Cruise ship games Casino games and slot machines Ships on international waters

The aforementioned rules apply to both online and land gambling scenarios. Whilst they may appear strict, Swedish players can benefit from a safer and more secure environment. First off, they will be able to gamble with licensed providers that abide by all laws and most of all, consider their users’ safety as the first priority. In this respect, these laws will promote better online safety and game security.

On top of all this, the new laws will also give foreign operators equal opportunities to offer and advertise their products and services within Svenska Spel. Finally, revenues will also increase as the years go by.

Following the abolishment of the state monopoly, more than 100 casino operators have been registered as licensed providers. Needless to say, the year 2020 contributed to a marked change to the Swedish gambling industry.