Gambling and the legality of it is very much a topical issue. In June, America legalised sports betting and Slovakia also legalised gambling just a few months ago. Now, Sweden is hopping on the band wagon and looking to reform some of their strict laws that have been in place for over 20 years. With this new law, Sweden will open to the international market and more casinos will be able to operate online, all be it with some strict rules and regulations. But what is the story behind these reforms and why now?
In June, the Swedish government, the Riksdagen, decided to provide the gambling industry in their country a little more freedom by openingonline playing upto international gambling operators for the first time ever. 94% voted in favour of this new law. This legislation, set to come into force in January 2019, comes with its own sets of rules and regulations as a push towards responsible gambling. Illegal gambling is very much a problem within Sweden and in fact many other countries, so these new laws aim to help combat some of the illicit dealings going on. Operators will have to pay€38,900 towards a license whilst if they want to make use of online gambling, the fee is higher.
Currently, gambling is legal in Sweden, but operators must have a licence to do so. Previously, Sweden has enjoyed gambling and archaeological finds have dated it back to the third century BC. The first casino was opened in the 18th century but by the mid-19th century, casinos had been banned. Then, in the Lotteries Act of 1994 and the Casinos Act of 1999, only licensed casinos could operate. Now, this all sounds fair enough in theory, but there are only two main state-backed operators who have been awarded this license – the Svenska Spel and the AB TravOchGalopp and only 4 legal casinos in the whole of Sweden. One of the biggest and most popular casinos is Casino Cosmopol Sundsvall, opened in 2001, which is situated in the old railway station.
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With both of these major players holding considerable stakes in the market (the ATG holding 18% share), it’s no surprise that there are some officials who are shifting a little in the chairs. Funding will need to be acquired elsewhere in order to make the most of these new laws. However, the general response is generally positive, with Sweden’s Cultural Affairs Committee quoting, “this proposed reform is long-awaited.”
Technological innovations and the wide-spread availability of online games has meant that gambling has spiked in Sweden, along with the traditionally popular betting on several sports, including horse racing and gymnastics.
The new laws on gambling and the rules and regulations should help to stem the tide of illegal gambling and encourage casinos to have more responsibility. It seems like a smart move from the Swedish government for now, but the true measures will be tested next year. For Sweden’s casinos and gaming operators, the world has opened up.