New Swedish gambling act to come into force on the 1st of January 2019
Gambling in Sweden has a long history and is deeply rooted in the Swedish mindset. According to the legend, a land dispute was settled with Norway back in the 11th Century using a game of dice. Swedes have been crazy about gambling ever since. It has taken such a central place in the Swedish culture that even Christmas has become associated with gambling. On the 23rd of December, millions of Swedes gather in front of the TV to watch a Christmas special broadcast of Bingolotto – a primetime live game show lottery.
In 1934, a state monopoly on gambling was established in order to combat illegal betting activities and punters looking for some casino action needed to turn to either one of the state-owned land-based casinos or go on a cruise to gamble on international waters. The internet era brought about new challenges, however, and the arrival of online casinos meant players could bypass the monopoly to play at any casino operating within the EU.
Furthermore, because of the monopoly, major Swedish betting companies such as Unibet, Mr Green and LeoVegas were forced to establish their headquarters abroad, namely in tax havens such as Malta and Gibraltar, resulting in lost job opportunities as well as tax income for the Swedish government. The monopoly had other adverse effects as well. Whilst companies located in Sweden were prohibited from advertising casinos, international based companies were free to do so without consequence.
As the government-owned betting company Svenska Spel kept losing market shares to international competitors, the decision was finally made to transit into a regulated market. Starting January 1st 2019, any operator aiming at Swedish players will have to apply for a license issued by the Swedish Gaming Authority. Aside from the license cost of between 40,000 to 70,000 EUR, operators will also have to pay 18% in tax. For players, thankfully, winnings will remain non-taxable.
There will also be heavy focus on fairness and consumer protection. Going forward, players will be able to pause or ban their accounts nationwide in a single action and promotions used to entice players will cease as operators will be allowed to offer no more than one deposit bonus for the lifetime of the player. The era of collecting loyalty points for free spins and cash bonuses is, in other words, coming to an end. Game developers will have to comply as well. For example, there must be at least 3-second intervals between every single spin, something that will undoubtedly require some getting used to for a lot of players used to fast spinning casino action.
Bigwinboard.com welcomes these changes. Not only will it filter out most of the bad providers and improve marketing conditions – it will also provide players with tools to help make gambling safer. With 2019 fast approaching, over 80 online casinos have already been approved by the Swedish Gambling Authority.