55 Online Gambling Sites Apply For New Swedish Licence
Sweden could have up to 55 re-regulated online casino and sports betting spaces in January, after the national gambling authority received as many applications for new licences.
Until this year, only one betting site, Svenska Spel, was legally permitted to operate in Sweden, but from January 1, 2019 any gambling site with a licence will be able to legally take bets in Sweden.
Lotteriinspektionen, Sweden's gaming regulator, opened applications for online gambling licences in early August, six weeks after publication of the new gambling laws which will liberalise the country's online betting.
Now it is reviewing more than 60 overall, and 55 applications from online casino and sports betting operators, many seeking to become the first international betting sites permitted to do business in Sweden.
Why Now for Sweden's Online Gambling?
On June 7, The Riksdag voted in favour of the government's proposal to re-regulate the gambling market by introducing a new gambling act and a licence system. Until then, online gambling had been a monopoly, controlled by Svenska Spel, but only legally.
The vagueness of legislation meant that Swedish people were still gambling online via international operators, as laws did not address whether or not it is legal for individuals to place bets with offshore providers.
Speaking at the time of the new bill's approval, Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for Public Administration, highlighted that the move came "14 years since the first of a line of gambling inquiries was appointed."
He added: "We are reinforcing the Swedish Gambling Authority, granting it more and sharper tools. Unlicensed operators will be shut out of the market."
What's in the Re-regulation Bill?
Sweden's new gambling legislation's primary focus is to install stringent regulation which protects gamblers betting in Sweden.
From January, anyone operating in Sweden must obtain an authorised licence, which ensures they will protect players from excessive gambling, forbid betting on events featuring people under the age of 18, and only offer bonuses to customers on their first gambling occasion.
It also creates a new criminal offence, Cheating At Gambling, designed to deter match fixing, and lays out rules on marketing, stating it must be moderate, and not specifically taget people under the age of 18.
In addition, licensed operators will be subjected to a tax of 18% on the profits they make through Swedish gamblers, though Gambling 'that has a public benefit shall remain free of tax'.
It Comes Just In Time. . .
Market share for operators betting in Sweden without Swedish permits was 73% in the first quarter of 2018, according to a report by Lotteriinspektionen. The gaming market overall accrued gross gaming revenue after payment of winnings of SEK 5.6billion - an increase of 2.8% year-on-year.
But, revenue for those with Swedish permits was down 1.1%, the permit-less increasing revenue by 15.3% to achieve an alarming market share of 73%. During that same period, overall online gambling increased by 16%, as land-based gambling decreased by 8%, showing just how timely this move by government is for the Swedish gambling industry.
After years of stalling, it has seen rapid change in the past 12 months, perhaps beginning with the appointment of Camilla Rosenberg as Director-General and head of the gambling authority in October last year. She had joined the team in September 2015 as head of the operations department, and had been acting Director-General since May. Rosenberg has appeared a key driving force behind the enactment of this gambling legislation.
"I look forward to leading the major reorganisation of the Swedish Gambling Authority that is now necessary," she said when beginning her six-year term in October, 2017.
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