Gambling is legal in Sweden. However, to play slot machines, buy lottery tickets or gamble online, you are required to be 18 years of age or above. Although gambling is legal, most Swedes engage in the practice on a very casual basis. Also, there are very few land-based casinos. While land-based gambling was legalised in 1994, online gambling became legal in 2002. There are several licensed online casinos in Sweden while there are others you can play online in Swedish currency, but are not licensed by the Swedish government. This does not mean they are operating illegally; you just need to check where they are licensed to ensure they are legit.
In this article, we explore Sweden’s new gaming and betting industry and how it has impacted the sports market.
Background Overview of Gambling Legislation in Sweden
Until earlier this year, by law, Sweden had been operating a monopoly system, but, there were numerous international operators that had been pursuing this market. Statistics from the Gambling Authority indicate that SEK 6.7 million of the total SEK 23.4 million obtained from the Swedish gambling market was generated by operators who were not licenced by Sweden.
Ideally, these operators held licenses from jurisdictions such as Gibraltar and Malta, and they had the right to operate in Sweden since they were providing services within the EU. Thus, the need for legislative changes was long overdue.
Preview of the Gambling Act
Since January 1st 2019, there have been 6 types of licences available, but the key licences include one for betting and the other for commercial online gambling. Any operator who meets the formal requirement, regardless of whether they are private gambling operators such as elit casinon, can be granted these two licences. Some of the main features included in the legislation are:
- The licence is valid for up to 5 years
- The tax is 18% of the gross gaming revenue
- Products covered include online casino table games and slots, online bingo, online poker and also land-based betting
- The betting licence covers any form of betting, including sports, horse races, among others.
- All players must set deposit limits
- It is the operator’s duty to put in place measures to prevent and reduce problem gambling
- It is a criminal offence to venture into match-fixing and could attract penalties of up to 2 years imprisonment
- There are no restrictions on in-play betting or no provision on RTP
- Players are under 18 years, and spread betting is prohibited.
Any Significant Changes Since the Implementation of the Act?
There has been a significant increase in the number of licences granted to operators among them being global brands such as bet365 and Unibet.
The increase in the number of licenced operators has led to a significant increase in advertising activities as new operators venture to establish their brand in the competitive-re-regulated market. However, the aggressive advertisements have triggered criticism from the government citing to be ‘unacceptable’. But there has been no indication of measures taken by the government to restrict the advertisement of gambling.
The Impact of the Act on Sports
One of the main fears of the new market has been the potential revenue loss. The increased online competition from casinon (Sweden) might negatively impact the small-scale bingo and lotteries events that were mainly used for fundraisers.
On the other hand, it also creates an opportunity to have more sports sponsorship. For example, the Swedish Elite Football could seek aid from Kindred Group. This will also benefit the operators since it will increase their brand awareness in the market.
Match-fixing is a serious offence and the most memorable was the allegations that happened in May 2017 during the match between IFK and AIK. It was claimed that AIK’s goalkeeper had been offered some financial incentives to let IFK win. With this background, the betting operators and sports organisations have now come together to prevent match-fixing.
It’s still early to determine the huge impact of the Act on the online Swedish gambling industry. But it is evident that the new re-regulated market has provided both the sports and betting operators new level grounds to build themselves up and work together since there are mutual-interest areas.