Europeans of all stripes love gambling, but in most countries on the continent the practice is heavily restricted. Sweden was one country that ran a very strict online gambling regime – until it ushered in new reforms in 2019.
Let’s look at the new Swedish gambling regulations and what countries that outlaw private online gambling operators – like Norway and Israel – can learn from the Swedes.
Sweden Opens Gambling to Private Operators
On January 1, 2019, Sweden brought in new laws that ended the state-run online gambling company’s monopoly and opened the market to private operators. For many years, state-owned Svenska Spel was the only company permitted to offer online gambling to people in Sweden, whether it be casino games, sports betting, or other types of games. Naturally, many companies flouted this law and by 2018, private companies had captured a 29% share of the Nordic country’s $2.5 billion gambling industry.
Partly in recognition of this new reality and partly because they needed the tax revenues, the Swedish government decided to enact new gambling reforms. Under the new laws, Spelinspektionen (or, for those who don’t speak Swedish, the Swedish Gambling Authority) has the authority to approve private operators. So far, the authority has licensed around 100 companies to accept Swedish gamblers.
Win-Win for Swedish Government and People
The biggest winners out of this new law are the Swedish people themselves. Thanks to the online gambling reforms, Swedes can now take their pick from the best gambling sites. The website Casino.se lists the top casino online providers and bonuses for Swedish players.
The government is also a major beneficiary. It’s no secret that legalization of online gambling is a quickfire way to bring in more tax revenues. In Sweden’s case, licensed operators must pay a tax worth 18% of their profits from Swedish customers. These tax payments come into effect this year, and we can expect to see the results of this new revenue source in Sweden’s next budget.
New Swedish Law Also Ensures Players are Protected
The Swedish gambling reforms have struck a balance between giving players freedom to choose and protecting them from bad actors. Promotion of gambling without a license has been banned and the Swedish Gambling Authority has been granted the power to block transactions between players and unregulated operators.
The laws also contain strong regulations about responsible gambling. Spelinspektionen has the power to force private operators to implement certain measures in defence of players. Furthermore, all operators are required to give their users the option of self-exclusion. This is only the first year of the new Swedish online gambling regulations, and we will undoubtedly see more rules brought in to ensure safe gambling in future.
Numbers Indicate Initial Success
The jury is still out on how effective the Swedish laws will be in the long-term and how good an example they set for other countries. But with so many operators already signing on, it can be said that the early signs are very good.