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It took some time, and probably a lot of legal work, but Pennsylvania has finally opened its doors to NetEnt.The popular...
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It’s been a little over a month since Lotteriinspektionen released their 18-month review on the state of the Sweden’s gambling industry. After complete and utter domestic dominance from government-run Svenska Spel since 1997, there seems to finally be some light at the end of the tunnel for Swedish online gamers who want more flexibility when gambling within the country’s regulations.
However, while the report is certainly promising and welcomed by us at Netent Casino, we should immediately note that it is only advisory at this time. No actual legislation has been drawn up using Lotteriinspektionen’s report as a framework yet, with plenty of angles for politicians to make changes if they desire. On the other hand, we’re definitely more optimistic about Sweden implementing an effective and reasonable iGaming structure moving forward, something that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be shared by Dutch, Pennsylvanian and possibly Norwegian authorities judging by certain activities.
If you want to take a detailed look at what Lotteriinspektionen suggested, please visit the link in the first paragraph. However, for this article we’re going to do a full roundup of the online casino scene’s reaction to Swedish re-regulation ideas, as they’ve now had more than a month to analyse, process and comment on the review. Here’s what the iGaming world has been saying about the future of Sweden’s online gambling market.
First and foremost, our favourite games developer NetEnt have signalled their intention to apply for a B2B Swedish gaming license if Lotteriinspektionen’s plans are set in motion. CEO and President of the company, Per Eriksson, stated he was delighted that NetEnt’s home country was moving forward with ideas for modern-day regulation, seeing absolutely no reason why some form of legislation should not make its way into law.
We don’t have to tell our readers how important it is to be sure of a game provider’s credentials, and NetEnt are as credible as they come. Having acquired casino gaming licenses from a number of EU countries – notably the UK, Malta, Denmark, Italy and a whole set of others – perhaps Sweden will be the next entry onto this list.
As for the actual online casino operators themselves, they’ve had a lot to say about Lotteriinspektionen’s report since it was released. Kindred Group for instance, the parent company behind Unibet and other high-profile brands, welcomed the review as good progress, even commenting that the 90% target for regulated gambling could be increased.
Other operators such as Betsson and ComeOn are thought to be eyeing the situation closely for potential gain, with the general reaction from many online casinos being positive. A major advantage would be the ability to advertise online gambling services in Sweden legally – with Facebook, Google and sports teams being just a few examples of potential targets. However, there are a few issues that operators are wary of which could well cause a few headaches in the future.
As always within iGaming, one of those is tax. Lotteriinspektionen recommended a tax rate of 18% for online gaming within their report, although operators were quick to note that this was by no means set in stone. It’s anticipated that the Swedish government may well want to raise this to higher levels, particularly as the Netherlands are looking towards 29% at this moment in time. If Sweden were to go near this kind of tax rate, many predict a potential power struggle between the state and iGaming firms.
Another vital aspect of gambling re-regulation is the time it takes for procedures to be altered. Early projections suggest that the beginning of 2019 is a feasible target for changes to be implemented, although law firms and other organisations have poured scorn on this idea (see below). Kindred themselves claimed that any heel dragging could threaten the very idea of Swedish gambling reform, with this proposal now into its third (and potentially final) iteration. Last chance saloon, perhaps!
A recent seminar in Malta took place regarding Swedish online gaming re-regulation, and this allowed for a law firm to give their own unique opinions on Lotteriinspektionen’s proposals. Having an outside-party’s voice can be beneficial, although they weren’t quite as hopeful with their assessment.
As we said above, the first criticism they levelled at the reforms was the timeline. To be able to turn this report into legislation – including all the initial comments from the government, potential sticking points with operators, and general negotiations all-round – would make an early-2019 launch optimistic at best. Sweden are set for a general election in 2018, so there would be a rush to get any documents pushed through into law prior to the September vote.
Secondly, Sweden have already clashed with the EU before on what’s legal and what’s not for online gambling in the country, and it’s been mooted that friction could happen again due to the potential punishments for unlicensed operators. The law firm also commented on advertisement limitations for unregulated platforms, suggesting that this may also go against EU law.
While debates within the iGaming world will be rife about Lotteriinspektionen’s individual points, the next big date to look out for is the government’s response. As the report was state-backed, it is expected that some form of comment will be made relatively soon – especially as time is of the essence.
While Lotteriinspektionen’s review was food for thought for all involved, we’ll only really be able to see any progress once a plan is drawn up to replace Svenska Spel’s monopoly dominance.
We’re crossing our fingers that it’ll be a smooth process!