Faced with competition from “illegal” sites and demands from the European Union, Sweden has set out to review regulations affecting gambling in general and online gambling in particular.
Current Swedish gambling laws allow all sorts of such activities, but make them the monopoly of state-run company Svenska Spel. This applies to online gambling as well.
The EU has long criticized the country for maintaining such a monopoly and urged the government to open the market to private sector competition.
Furthermore, many domestic players are unhappy with the domestic offerings, for example to play online poker in Sweden, because foreign sites provide more choices and better payouts than Svenska Spel’s monopoly operations do. This creates an exodus of gambling money, which the government would much rather see being spent in Sweden.
Although there is an increase in punters going online or resorting to mobile betting, the overall number of players has decreased significantly in just 10 years. While at the end of the 20th century 9 out of 10 Swedish adults engaged in some form of gambling – mostly lottery and sports betting – only 7 out of 10 do so now.
This is still a very significant portion of the population, however, and keeping their money in Sweden is an understandable priority.
Hence the government has been developing some cautious new legislation, laying the groundwork for a possible liberalization of the Swedish gambling scene, while also tightening the requirements for applications.
Details are expected to be released later this year, but expectations are that new applicants would have to submit detailed impact assessments of the proposed games with particular emphasis on problem gambling.