Sweden has a regulated online gambling industry. You can gamble legally provided you are above 18 years of age. Several forms of gambling, including online casinos, slots, and lottery games are legal in Sweden. The favorite places to gamble are the local bars and pubs, where slots and blackjack games are available in plenty.
Sweden legalized its land-based gambling industry in 1994 and online gambling in 2002. The Swedish TV shows several commercials for online casinos licensed in Sweden. However, the country clung to its gambling monopoly for years and started licensing private and offshore operators only recently.
The Swedish Gambling Authority
The Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) is the lottery and gambling authority in Swedish, responsible for making sure that the country’s gambling industry is reliable, safe, and legal. In addition to issuing permits for lotteries, it controls and supervises lottery activities and gambling.
The Ministry of Finance controls the Swedish Gambling Authority and the Government of Sweden appoints the members of its board. The Director General of Sweden is a board member and manages its various activities. The authority functions as per the provisions of the Lotteries Act and the Casino Act.
The regulatory body has around 50 employees, including several experts in IT, economics, legal, and other fields. Its headquarters is in Strangnas. The government appointed board, which we previously mentioned, is fully responsible for the authority, takes crucial decisions on new gaming and lottery services, and replies to reports, guidelines, reports, and referrals.
The authority comprises three departments, as follows:
- Operational Department:It deals with compliance and licensing of casino games, poker, restaurant casinos, amusement games, gaming machines, horse and dog racing, bingo, national lotteries, and the Svenska Spel’s number and lottery games
- Legal Affairs and Administrative Department:It is responsible for human resources, legal expertise, finance, and support functions such as reception, switchboard, registry, security, archives, and IT
- The Communication Department:It deals with all internal and external communications, business intelligence, and marketing
In addition, the authority also comprises a department for risk minimization and social consideration, which deals with gambling-related risks. One of the risk is unlicensed casinos (so-called ‘casino utan svensk licens’): there are many Swedish gamblers who prefer to play at websites with MGA spellicens, Trustly & BankID, instead of local-licensed internet casinos.
The authority also has paid inspectors who function all over Sweden. At least one inspector is present during the draws of lottery games to make sure that the game is operated fairly and accurately. Inspectors from the authority also visit various gambling establishments to make sure that the operators comply with the regulations and that no illegal gambling activities are taking place.
Here is a list of tasks that the Swedish Gambling Authority performs:
- Licenses gaming machines, national lottery games, bingo games, and restaurant casinos
- Grants approval to lottery game drawing and surveillance equipment and lottery tickets
- Supervises lottery and gaming operations to ensure compliance
- Provides information related to lottery legislation and gambling
- Keeps the government updated on the latest developments in Swedish and offshore gambling markets.
If you are an operator interested in getting hold of a Swedish license for your online gambling site, you can contact the Swedish Gambling Authority via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can dial the number +46 (0)152-650 100. The authority’s visiting address is Finningevägen 54 B and its postal address is P.O. Box 199, 645 23 Strängnäs.
Sweden’s Latest Gambling Laws
Sweden finally put an end to the government operated Svenska Spel’s monopoly in the gambling market on Jan 1, 2019. The country enacted brand new gambling laws that welcomed private operators of online gambling sites, including offshore online casino gaming companies.
For several years, the Svenska Spel monopolized the Swedish online gambling company, offering online casino gaming and sports betting services to the residents. Many private operators discovered ways to dodge the law and succeeded in illegally grabbing 29% of Sweden’s online gambling industry, which is worth around $2.5 billion.
Realizing that there was nothing it could do about the situation and also because it required tax revenue generated by a well-regulated online gambling industry, the government amended its gambling laws. The new laws give the Swedish Gambling Authority the right to grant licenses to private gambling companies. As a result, the authority has granted online gambling licenses to more than 100 operators, making it possible for them to legally accept Swedish online casino players.
Here are some of the most important changes the new laws have created in the country’s regulated online gambling industry:
- Operators have to pay 18% tax on their commercial gaming revenue.
- Non-profit gaming activities are not taxed.
- Swedish players can claim only one welcome bonus at online casinos licensed in Sweden.
- The new laws recognize six varieties of gambling licenses.
- Fees for a license range from SEK400 to SEK700.
- The legal age to play is 18+ for online casinos and 21+ for land-based casinos.
- Players can freeze their online casino accounts whenever they please.
- All slot games should have a three-second delay between spins.
- Players should use the same payment method for deposits and withdrawals.
The new laws have greatly benefited operators, players, as well as the government. While Swedish players now have a wide range of licensed online casinos to choose from, the government can rake in more money through tax revenues.
The new laws also protect players from unlicensed and unregulated online gambling operators as the Swedish Gambling Authority now has the power to prevent the promotion of unlicensed online gambling sites and block financial transactions between unlicensed operators and Swedish players.
The strong focus on responsible gambling is the most protective feature of this law. Accordingly, the Swedish Gambling Authority now has the power to ensure that operators of online casinos implement proper responsible gambling measures. Online casinos licensed in Sweden must allow players to request self-exclusion if they feel that they have lost control over their gambling activities.
Having created a model regulatory framework for its online gambling industry, Sweden is likely to carefully observe the impact of its new laws on operators and players. Based on its observations, it may either further amend existing laws or create more effective ones.