After years being at loggerheads with the European Commission over their protectionist approach to online gambling, the Swedish government have finally moved to re-regulate their gambling rules and open their online gambling market to international operators.
This has been a painstakingly long process, with the Government very reluctant to move away from laws protecting the national monopoly of Svenska Spel.
European Commission infringement proceedings back in 2014 had the politicians going trough the motions of heading towards new Swedish iGaming laws. But it was probably a burgeoning unregulated market, thought to comprise the majority of Swedish online gambling by 2018, that proved the real catalyst for change.
A new ‘re-regulated’ gambling bill was adopted by the government last month leading Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi to declare, “it is now time for us to move from words to action and regain control of the Swedish gambling market”.
Basically it’s very difficult to prosecute unlicensed operators until you have a licensing regime considered consistent with EU law, which is what Sweden will very soon have.
The timeline of all key dates and developments are nicely summarised at the website of the Swedish Gambling Authority, loosely as follows:
- new law passed by Swedish Riksdag 7 June;
- license application documents to be published 10 July;
- regulations and guidelines to be finalised by 24 July;
- license applications to open 1 August;
- licenses to be issued and law to come into effect 1 January 2019.
Key provisions of the re-regulated gambling law
First and foremost, the national gambling monopoly long held by Svenska Spel will cease to exist. In its place will be three new gambling sectors, one of which called the competitive sector will allow licensed operators to offer and market online gambling services within Sweden.
Licenses can be granted to operators within and outside the European Economic Area, although those outside the EEA will need to establish representation within Sweden.
Licenses will be granted by the gaming authority which will go by the new name Spelinspektionen for maximum 5 year terms, and licensees will be subject to an 18% tax on gross gaming revenues.
Sanctions will exist for unlicensed operators participating in market, and the the gaming authority will have the power to request ISPs block selected operator websites.
Who’s lining up to participate in the new regulated Swedish market?
No doubt all the big name European online gambling operators will be front and centre when the licensing process starts…particularly those with an already strong market and/or corporate presence in Sweden. Unibet, Betsson Group and Leo Vegas immediately spring to mind. Most of the names toward the top of the list on the live casinos page will also be in the queue.
Another name already making moves, not an operator but a live games provider…Evolution Gaming.
They’ve made a couple of announcements this week declaring their intentions to be well positioned when Sweden’s new laws kick in at the start of next year.
The most recent was the news that they have been selected by Svenska Spel as their live dealer games provider.
Come January 1st 2019, Svenska may no longer be the national monopoly operator, but they are certain to be a major player in the new re-regulated market, and they’ll be offering their online customers the full compliment of Evolution live tables. There was no mention in the release about a Svenska private table installation.
Svenka’s Fredrik Wastenson said of the deal,
“We naturally carried out a thorough market review with regard to our choice of Live Casino partner. We are confident that Evolution Gaming offers the very best solution for Svenska Spel and its current and future players. Evolution’s world-class Live Casino will mean not only the best possible choice of live games for our players, but also highly enjoyable and secure gaming experiences.”
Evolution’s CEO Martin Carlesund, had this to say:
“This a truly ground-breaking agreement between our two companies, both of which are very deeply rooted in Sweden. Sweden is a key market for Evolution, and we are honoured to have been selected by such a big name in that market as Svenska Spel.”
Earlier in the week Evolution had another games supply deal to announce, this time with Swedish horse racing operator AB Travoch Galopp (ATG), which has been operating in the Nordic region now for almost half a century. They’ll probably be the the second operator to be granted a license under the new regime after Svenksa!