Sweden edging closer to open, regulated online gambling

The wait for Sweden’s new iGaming laws may at long last be nearing its end.

Plans are afoot to have legislation in force by 1 January 2019, ending the Svenska Spel monopoly that has been in place since 1934 and opening the (licensed) market to operators based outside Sweden.

Operators will be able to apply for licenses as early as August this year, and if successful, begin offering Lotteriinspektionen approved casino games in 2019 with an 18% tax applying to gross gaming revenue.

The proposed legislation has strong player protection emphasis with provisions for,

  • self exclusion,
  • the ability to turn off specific gaming content, and
  • restriction of bonuses to new player sign up offers only.

Authorities are eager to corral the current unregulated market which has surged in the last few years and is now estimated to comprise the majority of Swedish online play, within the confines of their regulated and taxed regime. Operators choosing not to join the regulated market will be locked out by legislative provisions giving authorities power to block transactions between players and unlicensed operators, as well as have local ISP block unlicensed domains.

Per Minister of Civil Affairs, Ardalan Shekarabi:

“We strengthen the Lottery Inspectorate as the Game Inspectorate and give the Authority more and more powerful tools. Unlicensed actors shall be closed outside and licensees shall conduct their business in accordance with the law… It is crucial that sustainable funding for the community is not jeopardized”

Of course history suggests that locking out unlicensed operators is a difficult thing to do in practice. But it also suggests that most of the big operators are happy to play by the rules and participate in regulated EU online gambling markets when they are offered.

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