As of the first of October, nobody under the age of 18 will be able to buy scratch cards from Sveksa Spel, the state-owned lottery monopoly in Sweden.
“Research shows that the earlier one starts playing the lottery, the greater the risk for problems later in life,” explains Johan Tisell, communications director at Svenska Spel.
For the moment, this change to Swedish gambling laws only applies to purchases, and only to scratch cards. This is an important distinction because it is common practice in Sweden for minors to sell lottery tickets on the behalf of Svenska Spel through fund raisers for children’s sports clubs.
This may soon stop as well, because Svenska Spel believes it is impossible to prevent these children from selling lottery tickets to other minors. Sports clubs will likely have to find other sources of funding.
“This is a shame,” said Ove Lansén of Enskede Sport Club’s office in Stockholm. “It feels like they are going about it the wrong way and it will affect sports clubs and voluntary associations that are operating with strained finances.”
The Enskede Sports Club alone sells 30 to 40 lottery packages every year to raise funds for its 2000 members. “This is a quite a setback for us,” said Lansén.
Age restrictions are already in place for most other forms of gambling, including online casinos in Sweden. While Svenska Spel also controls most online gambling in the country, players also access any of several hundred foreign-based gambling sites to enjoy casino games and to play online poker in Sweden. While these foreign sites are not subject to Swedish gambling regulations, they typically enforce strict age limits, and require proof of identity before letting players cash out their winnings.