Swedish License Guide
Recently the Swedish gambling market has grown, particularly the online gambling market. Whilst that growth was relatively significant, 1.2% for the first three quarters of 2018, the Lotteriinspektionen witnessed a decline in the market revenue generated by operators with a Swedish license. For example, the market contribution of licensed companies has seen a downturn of 2.4% year upon year.
At the same time, the market contribution of unlicensed gambling firms has risen significantly by 12.4%. In short, this means that there is a grey market that the Swedish government has not been able to capitalise on, resulting in a significant amount of tax revenue being lost. The new regulations, brought in by the new Spelinspektionen aim to shrink this grey market, thereby taking advantage of the casinos’ now taxable status, along with introducing new protections for players.
The new licensing laws cover markets that are separated into different categories. The licenses available, and the categories of activity that they cover, are separated into the following six categories:
- State owned games
- Public purpose games
- Commercial online games
- Commercial land-based games
- Cruise ship games
Issuing of the license is, as you would expect, reasonably limited. The 2018 legislation requires that licenses are awarded to those who: a) have the knowledge, experience, and organisation required to operate the business; b) be reasonably trusted to operate in strict accordance with the law and regulations.
The 2019 licensing regulation lists rules about how other organisations must cooperate with the gaming authorities, and also their obligations toward players.
Internet service providers, under the new legislation, will be subject to orders from the Spelinspektionen (Swedish Gambling Authority). The Spelinspektionen will be able to command service providers to present warning messages to players when they navigate to websites offering unlicensed gambling.
Payment blockers are also in place in the 2019 licensing regulation. It is in the power of the Spelinspektionen to request that payments from gamblers to unlicensed operators are blocked.
The 2019 change in Swedish licensing laws and regulations came with a significant amount of change to the protection afforded to customers, along with the number of regulations in place to secure responsible gambling practices.
Self-exclusion from gambling is a required feature of online casinos for the Swedish regulation. All casinos must ensure that there is a function available to their players to allow themselves to self-exclude from gambling for a given amount of time. License holders’ websites must include a panic button for players, which is a feature that immediately and temporarily excludes them from playing for 24 hours.
All licensees must check their registered account holders against the Spelpaus.se database. The Spelpaus.se database is the register of all Swedish citizens who have opted to self-exclude from gambling.
New regulation also requires the licensees to only offer bonuses in specific circumstances. License holders can only offer bonuses to players on the first gambling occasion. This means licensees are limited to offering welcome bonuses to players and prevents ‘birthday bonuses’ or seasonal deposit bonuses.
License holders are also forbidden from covering bets on events that include young people under the age of 18. This means licensees will not be able to offer bets on E-Sports tournaments which feature players under the age of 18, for example.
Supervision and Fees
As with all monetary transactions for goods, gambling is taxable. The 2019 legislation is a conscious effort to reduce the size of the online gambling grey market. Licenses require all operators to pay tax. The rate of tax that licensed casinos must pay is:
- 18% of profit generated on gambling in Sweden.
At the start of 2019, as the new legislation came into force, there were 60 companies who had received the new licenses.
The list of companies is set to expand, as additions have been made at a fast rate.