Swedish Gambling Market Revamping

  • 0

Sweden is taking steps to make its gambling industry more liberal as the gaming regulator has prepared new legislation that will welcome international operators to Sweden and allow gaming operators to function in a more liberal gaming market. A draft of the new gaming regulation was finalized last week.

Unlicensed gaming operators have been free to offer services in Sweden. The new regulation will make it mandatory for all online operators to obtain a license before offering any gambling services in the country. The new regulation is being put in place to protect the best interests of the country and its people, particularly gambling participants.

Right now, the Swedish gambling market is a wild west of sorts with little to no regulatory oversight. It’s the intention of Ardalan Shekarabi, the Minister for Public Administration, to draft up a new bill to regain control of this gambling market. According to the regulatory body of Lotteriinspektionen, their recent figures suggest that online operators that are internationally licensed control a quarter of the overall gambling market of Sweden.

The state government will control brick-and-mortar casinos, gaming machines and major lotteries outside of casinos. However, digital products like online bingo, sports betting, and online casinos will not be under the control of the state.

Draft Gaming Legislation Submitted To EC

Sweden’s current administration confirmed that they’ve recently sent a copy of the draft gambling law to the European Commission (EC) for vetting. There is a formal standstill period which is scheduled to end on March 20, 2018. If the European Commission has any concerns over the proposed draft bill, it will highlight the same and ask Sweden to make the necessary amendments. However if no concerns are raised during the standstill period, then Sweden will proceed with the bill.

The Swedish government has confirmed that it will start to accept applications for new gambling licenses from July 2018. The new gaming market is expected to launch on January 1, 2019.

Licensing Fees, Taxes, and Other Regulations

Virtual sports and online gambling will be open to all qualified online gaming operators once the new draft bill passes through. The licenses offered by the Swedish government are valid for five years. Licensed operators will have to pay 18 percent of their gaming revenue in taxes. This rate of taxation is within the range that many Swedish-facing online operators had found acceptable to run a profitable online gambling operation and successfully attract Swedish players.

The new regulation will also make it compulsory for international operators to have their gaming servers based in Sweden as well as in overseas locations. There are exceptions to this proposed rule, particularly on licensees in a jurisdiction that the Swedish government finds acceptable. Furthermore, operators who grant Swedish authorities remote access to their servers for the sake of inspections are also given a pass. Licensed operators based in the European Economic Area (EEA) should establish a Swedish representative in order to break into the Swedish gambling market.

Customer Protection and Unauthorized Operators

The bill that overhauls the way online and offline gambling is conducted in Sweden has two primary goals. First, it intends to protect the (Swedish) customer and his/her best interests. Second, it aims to punish unauthorized operators. For instance, when it comes to online play, all players are given deposit limits. Operators are forbidden to offer participants credit. Bonus offers are limited to first time Swedish players as well.

Sweden has strict gambling rules to protect underage gamblers. Land based casinos are only allowed to accept patrons who are over the age of 20 while online gambling websites can only process players who are over the age of 18. Licensees who are unable to comply with these new rules and regulations will be hit with penalties such as paying SEK 5,000 or even 10 percent their annual turnover depending on the severity of their negligence.

Further Punishments and the Bottom Line

Lotteriinspektionen has the right to force local Internet service providers or ISPs to slap the Scarlet Letter or a blockade on any unauthorized or illegal gambling domains. Financial institutions will also be required to block payments to these webpages or online gambling hubs. Operators who offer services to unlicensed Swedish punters will be subjected to fines and even up-to-two-years prison sentences.

The Swedish market will be discussed at the Mare Balticum Gaming Summit, which will be held on the 8th of May in Riga. For more details visit: www.marebalticumgaming.com