Published: March 10, 2019

70+ Operators Approved Under Sweden’s Newly Liberalized Gambling Market

Sweden’s newly liberalized online gambling market has only been in place for a couple of months, but already it is proving a success. Spelinspektionen (the Swedish Gambling Authority), granted licences to 60 gambling operators before the new laws were implemented on January 1. It has since approved an additional 13 operators, bringing the total number of licence holders to 73.

 Sweden’s Liberalized Gambling Laws Having Intended Effect

 Spelinspektionen has been handing out new licenses at a rate of more than one a week since the new year, with no signs of a slowdown any time soon. A glance at many of Europe’s largest gambling operators among the new Swedish licence holders.

Prior to the new laws, Sweden’s gambling market was essentially a state monopoly. Unlicensed gambling operators were accepting Swedish customers, but without going through the proper legal channels. In 2018, foreign gambling sites accounted for 29% of Sweden’s $2.5 billion gambling market, up from 24% the previous year.

Sweden’s new gambling laws were designed to give the state more control over the market. The fact that 73 companies have already jumped on board shows the new laws are having their intended effect.

Swedish Gambling License Holders Must Pay Tax, Monitor Customers

Sweden’s new gambling laws impose a number of strict rules on operators. For starters, it includes a taxation component, with operators taxed at a rate of 18% of their profits from Swedish customers. The Swedish government will undoubtedly monitor tax collections particularly close this year, given the country is heading toward a budget deficit in 2019.

The new regulations outline several ways in which licence-holders must protect players from excessive gambling. For example, operators must monitor individual players and, if necessary, help them to limit the amount they bet. In addition, operators may only offer a bonus the first time a player bets on their site. They aren’t permitted to offer bonuses to repeat customers.

Under the new laws, Spelinspektionen maintains the right to request that an online operator block payments. It may also request that an online operator display a warning message on websites that aren’t approved for business in Sweden. Moreover, players themselves may be able to exclude themselves from online gambling via Spelinspektionen directly. This would save players from having to make the request from each individual licence holder.

Svenska Spel Sees Consolidation of Swedish Gambling Market

 Svenska Spel, the state-owned Swedish gambling company, will continue to operate alongside the dozens of approved private operators. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Svenska Spel CEO Patrik Hofbauer said he expects that only 5-10 of the 70+ licenced operators will survive in the long term.

“Things will fall into place in the coming one to three years,” Hofbauer told Bloomberg. “I find it hard to believe there will be 70 companies in the future, as this business is driven by volumes.”

Of course, Hofbauer has some interest in talking down private operators given his company now has to compete with them. But whether he’s right, wrong, or if the truth is somewhere in between, one thing is for sure: Sweden’s newly liberalized gambling market is here to stay.


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