Sweden could introduce a new regulatory regime for gaming in early 2019. At the end of March, the Swedish government finalised a public investigation on the prospects of loosening up the state gambling monopoly. The proposal has been submitted to the initiator of the report, Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister of Public Administration, who previously highlighted the fierce competition in the Swedish gaming market coming from Malta-based iGaming companies.
The 1,300-page report concludes that Sweden should move in the direction of regulating gambling by empowering the Swedish Gambling Authority to issue licences for private operators involved in betting, online gaming, casinos, slot machines, and card game tournaments.
”The government’s point of departure in this work has revolved around resuming control over the gaming market. Swedish law shall apply in Sweden, and this demands that we regulate the gaming law,” Shekarabi told Swedish media following the announcement.
The market share of the Swedish monopoly companies ATG and Svenska Spel produced a net turnover of €1,7 billion in 2016, while the remote gaming companies registered a net turnover of €520 million.
The report includes a proposal for a gambling tax of 18%, which can be compared to the 20% tax in Denmark and the 15% tax in the UK. The Swedish evening tabloid Aftonbladet reported on the eve of the announcement that the aim of the overhaul is to ”entice companies to come home from places like Malta”.
To stop operators from accessing the market without a Swedish licence, IP-blocking procedures were discussed during the public investigation. The final report abandoned these plans, however, it is proposing that IP-suppliers need to put up warning texts indicating that users are being directed to a web page which is not under Swedish supervision. The report also suggests that gaming activities that are not licensed in Sweden will be considered criminal acts and will be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.
"The government’s point of departure in this work has revolved around resuming control over the gaming market. Swedish law shall apply in Sweden, and this demands that we regulate the gaming laws"
- Ardalan Shekarabi, Swedish Minister of Public Administration
The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, which unites 16 companies on the Swedish gambling market such as Betsson, Bet365 and Unibet, commented favourably on the proposal of imposing a licensing regime. The regulatory model that the report proposes draws much inspiration from practices and principles developed by the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and to some extent on those of Denmark.
While one can expect that Malta-based iGaming operators targeting Swedish customers will apply for a Swedish licence once this becomes available, it is unlikely that these companies will move their headquarters to Sweden. When MaltaProfile spoke to the CEOs of iGaming companies, whose origins are Swedish and whose games are targeting Swedish players, they all highlighted the fact that Malta has built up an iGaming ecosystem, including professional services, industry-specific talent and infrastructure, that Stockholm cannot match.