Sweden’s love affair with poker has existed for a very long time. However, its growth has to some extent always been impeded by the fact that the market has since the beginning of time been monopolized by the state. Things, fortunately, took a turn for the better in June 2018, when the newly introduced gambling laws did away with the state’s monopoly over online poker. This is exciting news, especially for the Swedish poker players who will soon be able to play online poker on international platforms other than the state-run Svenska Spel, and also play against players from other parts of the globe.
Keeping Up with Reality
Sweden was, in 2013, found to have been in violation of several of the European Union’s law especially with regards to a law that required all the member states to allow international operators to obtain internet gaming licenses. Despite this, as witnessed, it took five years for the country’s authorities to finally open up the market to international poker sites. Still, the state-owned Svenska Spel will continue to operate as it has always done until the ban on international poker and gambling platforms is lifted on January 1, 2019.
One factor that seems to have contributed to this huge decision is the Swedish authorities’ realization that it is almost impossible to enforce such a strict monopoly on the Swedish residents or any other person for that matter. This is simply due to the fact that the internet has always offered and will likely continue offering workarounds that render such laws as Sweden’s internet gambling monopoly useless. In fact, a number of online gambling operators such as PartyPoker, PokerStars, and 888Poker have been active in Sweden all this while without holding licenses from the Swedish authorities.
Sweden also hopes to tackle the issue of criminal activity with this move – it is common knowledge that unregulated gambling activities will more often than not facilitate or foster criminal activities. They hope that creating a more liberal online gambling industry, they will finally be able to curb or at least significantly minimize this particular problem.
Interested international online poker operators will be able to start applying for the necessary licenses on August 1 and the ones that will be lucky enough to be approved will be subject to an 18 percent tax. Svenska Pel will, however, not be subject to this tax. It will keep operating and supporting the country as usual with the stakeholders hoping that it will remain popular among Swedish online gamblers.
The new laws have now given the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) more power and it now has the authority to close down any of the online gaming operators that are offering their services without a license.