Sweden Introduces Gaming License. As of the start of 2019, Sweden has instituted new laws creating a legal, regulated gaming industry in the nation. With this change, Sweden joins Finland and Norway, which formerly monopolized legalized gaming among Nordic countries. In mid-August of 2018, in preparation for this impending implementation of a nationwide gaming market, The Swedish Gambling Authority (or Lotteriinspektionen) beginning accepting applications for gaming licenses by operators wishing to offer legal gaming in the country.
This move was intended not only to make Sweden competitive in an increasing diverse, accessible and international gaming market but also to make gaming in Sweden and by Swedish citizens safer. As Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for Public Administration, has said, "Unregulated gambling has taken over and gambling is used in criminal activities...It is now time for us to move from words to action and regain control of the Swedish gambling market.
A Brief History of Gaming in Sweden
Until recently, Sweden's gaming industry had been ruled exclusively by the state, starting back in the 11th century. The invention of online casinos, however, made it nearly impossible for the Swedish state-run gaming industry to regulate its citizens' gaming activities. Moreover, once the EU instituted a law permitting the citizens of all its member-countries, Sweden included, to play at any online casino, Swedish state-controlled land-based casinos started losing increasing market share to overseas actors. In 2018, the Swedish government determined that a change to its monopolistic model for regulating gaming in the nation was in order.
Key Points of the New Law
The new nationwide gaming law instituted in Sweden on January 1, 2019 is called SFS 2018:138. Among its many details are the following key points:
- Operators can receive one of six types of gaming operator licenses.
- The cost of gaming operator licenses is between 400 000 and 700 000 SEK.
- Commercial gaming operators will pay an 18% tax on income from those activities.
- Non-profit gaming operators pay no taxes on income from those activities.
- To play at an online casino in Sweden like Hajper, one must be at least 18 years of age.
- To play at a physical (land-based) casino in Sweden, one must be at least 21 years of age.
The Six Types of Gaming Licenses in Sweden
The six types of gaming licenses offered by Lotteriinspektionen are as follows:
- State-owned - For state-owned operators only offering slot and casino games and certain lotteries.
- Public purpose - For non-profit organizations only offered certain types of lottery.
- Commercial online - For any qualifying company offering online slots, bingo and casino games.
- Betting - For any qualifying company offering any kind of betting, whether offline or online.
- Land-based commercial - For any qualifying company offering slot machines and card games not in a casino.
- Cruise ship - For ships sailing international waters offering slots and casino games.
In an effort to make gaming safer for Swedish citizens, the new law also puts the onus on gaming operators to protect their customers from gambling excessively. It requires gaming operators to implement systems whereby players can opt to block themselves from being able to gamble. It also limits how much and what types of marketing gaming operators may conduct.
Changes to Bonuses
At least two significant changes have been made to the way bonuses are handled at casinos in Sweden now. Firstly, with the institution of the new law at the start of 2019, all Swedish players are considered "new" players at any casino, online and land-based, whether or not that individual has played at any of those casinos before. This means you can potentially claim a second welcome bonus at a casino you already visited when it was only licensed in Malta and not yet in Sweden. Secondly, a welcome bonus is now the only bonus a casino is allowed to offer players, shutting down daily bonuses, loyalty points programs and "free spins" promotions.