With the interest in online gambling rapidly increasing across the globe it is almost impossible for countries to remain intolerant. The online gambling market is an incredibly lucrative one and with its consistency in growth and expansion it can only be financially rewarding for countries to welcome this market legally and with open arms.
Sweden is one of the countries with the most complex history regarding online gambling. While recent years have brought change there is still a long wait period ahead before online gambling is fully legal in this country. This, however, does not mean that online gambling is considered illegal in this country. In fact, players are allowed to participate in online gambling activities as long as it is done on sites recognized as legal by the state.
The rules and regulations regarding online gambling can be somewhat confusing, which is why we’ve created this guide especially for Swedish gamblers and those looking to take up online gambling as a form of entertainment.
Swedish players have been allowed to enjoy gambling at land-based casinos legally since 1994, while online gambling only became legal in 2002. It was only in this year that the Swedish Government allowed the two major gaming companies, Trav och Galopp and Svenska Spel to establish their online gambling operations within its borders.
The government made it explicitly clear that they aim to make the online gambling market a regulated one, and one of their main focus points was implementing rules and regulations when it comes to the licensing of foreign operators wanting access to the Swedish market.
Sweden’s online gambling market used to be a state-owned monopoly but after pressure from the European Commission, they’ve been forced to change their regulations and restrictions. After years the Swedish Government has finally opened the gambling industry to foreign operators. The new Swedish Gambling law came into force on the 1st of January 2019.
With the gambling industry being a state-run monopoly for many years it wasn’t easy to bring on change. The implementation of the new rules saw various setbacks and was suspended by the end of 2014.
One of the biggest setbacks was due to the European Commission being unhappy with legislation drafts as it was deemed incompatible with EU politics. It went all the way to the European Court of Justice after which the regulations were sent back for review and rewriting.
However, in the past few years, the Swedish government has been working hard at getting their new liberalized gambling regime up to European Commission standards. By the end of December 2017, the government had sent a copy of the new gambling legislation draft to the European Commission for inspection.
For most of 2018, there has been a formal standstill period because the Swedish government didn’t submit their new legislation draft to the European Commission in time. This standstill lasted only three months, ending on 20 March 2018. It’s only after this that the government started accepting new gambling licenses applications for the new market that launched earlier this year.
The new legislation aims to keep control of the market within Sweden while still opening it up to foreign casino operators. All forms of online gambling are open to applicants who’ve been approved by Lotteriinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Authority. All licences are valid for 5 years and operators are expected to adhere to the strict regulations as well as pay taxes.
Another note on the legislation is that unauthorized operators will receive hefty punishments. These include major fines and prison sentences of up to two years.
One of the main objectives of the new Gambling Act implemented earlier in 2019 is to create a safer market for Swedish players. The new legislation is mainly focused on improving game security, consumer protection and ensuring clear market conditions.
One of the first changes was the age limit for both land-based and online gambling. Players have to be a minimum of 18 years to play online and 21 or older to play at land-based casinos.
The Swedish gaming authority is also locking down on all underage related betting activities including betting on sports with underage players involved. In the past few months, Spelinspektionen has imposed many warnings and handed out stiff penalties to online licensees offering betting markets on sporting events involving players that are considered underage.
Along with the new gambling legislation Spelinspektionen also brought into effect their very own self-exclusion registry. Just a few days after it was launched in January 2019 over 10K Swedish adults registered with the new national gambling self-exclusion registry. Any online operators found providing service to self-excluded customers will be fined heavily.
Having only been enacted in 2019, Swedish gambling legislation remains one of the youngest in Europe. As a result, we have not seen many adjustments. Licensing requirements and costs, age requirements and even tax rates have not changed. Most sections of the Swedish Gambling Act remain intact.
However, the current COVID-19 crisis has resulted in some movement of the regulation front. Swedish authorities have taken note of the recent surge in online gambling activity. As a result, the government has introduced a set of temporary laws and other measures aimed at regulating online gambling in the country. These laws are set to be in effect until at least the end of 2020.
According to several reports, the temporary laws that will apply until the end of the year are as follows:
Swedish authorities have intimated that these rules are simply designed to protect the consumer from increased risk during this uncertain and unstable period.
For online casino players, bonuses and promotions are a big part of playing online casino games. Along with the new Gambling Act came a few restrictions that are more of displeasure for players than casinos.
According to the new legislation, all players are only allowed to receive one bonus offer in their lifetime at a casino. If that casino is part of a bigger organization (White Label) you are only allowed to take one offer from one of the casinos in the entire organization.
Some good news is that the Swedish Gambling Commission will consider existing players as new players too, meaning you will have the opportunity to claim a welcome offer once more. Another great thing is that you will be able to join different casinos (not too frequently) to claim other welcome offers. Just make sure that these casinos are not part of the same bigger organization.
With fewer promotions running it means there will be less spam and promotions in your inbox from the casinos. Another game-changer in the legislation is the fact that no gamification is allowed at Swedish online casinos. This is a massive hit especially for players as gamification has become a big part of online gameplay in most online casinos today. That being said, it’s still a big victory to be able to play at different online casinos legally in Sweden.
Sweden is one of the countries with a few confusing regulations regarding taxes. In essence, at the moment you don’t have to pay any tax on winnings made on domestic gambling sites. If you make any winnings playing at foreign gambling sites you will be taxed 30% of your winnings. These hefty taxes can scare most away from participating in gambling from foreign sites, but with the new liberal gambling regime, this might just change.
For online gambling operators excited to enter the Swedish gambling market, there is a little bit of bad news. All authorised operators allowed to provide their services to Swedish citizens will be taxed 18% of their yearly gross gambling revenue.
The Swedish online gambling market has changed a lot in the past few years with foreign operators finally being able to offer their services to Swedish residents. Players can rest assured that online gambling is completely legal but only on sites operated by those who are in possession of a license.
The Swedish Gaming Authorities are still very strict when it comes to unlicensed sites and while they do not prosecute players it could affect your bankroll. It is therefore advised that Swedish players stick to online casinos that have been fully licensed and regulated.
Keep in mind that you can claim only one welcome offer in your life so best to find an online casino with the best offer available. Apart from that, you can take into consideration game variety and customer care. Any online casino that has the necessary licence awarded by the Swedish Gaming Authority is considered safe to play at.
There is a list of amazing online casinos that have been vetted and reviewed by CasinoWow and are deemed safe and fun to play. For a bigger selection of fair and secure gambling sites, Swedish players are welcome at taking a look at our top-rated casinos list.
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