Gambling in Sweden
The country of Sweden is a hot spot for gambling. In 2009, it was estimated that Sweden's gambling market was the fourth largest in the European Union, or EU. Legal online opportunities can be found aplenty in the country. Cyber players who enjoy poker, roulette, blackjack and slots, can find a plethora of fun at hundreds of different Swedish online sites. Over 200 of these sites offer games in both English and Swedish, making it easy for people all over the world to log on and play.
The History of Gambling in Sweden
Like many other countries, the road to legalized online gambling in Sweden has been a long and bumpy one. Here are some of the highlights in the over the past 100 years:
Early 1930s: Sweden's first large-scale gambling company, Tipstjanst, opens for business. The company offers sports, pool gambling, and lotto to its customers. Tipstjanst is controlled by the government and all profits directly benefit the government.
1990: Government-sponsored gambling continues to evolve in the form of electronic slot machines, sports pools, lottery, and horse racing. Small restaurant casinos bring the activity to the general public, offering roulette and card games.
1994: The Swedish Lotteries Act is introduced. The act defines the Swedish gambling industry and the parameters under which it may operate. Two of the act's major tenets are the restriction of foreign gambling entities inside Sweden's boundaries and theprohibition of Swedish gambling enterprises outside of the country. This is done with the intent of keeping profits at home, where they directly benefit the government.
1997: Tipstjanst merges with another state gambling company, Penninglotteriet, to form Sweden's major gambling corporation, “Svenska Spel”.
1999: The Casinos Act is introduced. This act is a caveat to the Lotteries Act. According to this act, Swedish casinos, upon their creation, will be permitted to service foreign customers.
2001: Two casinos are opened in Malmo and Sundsvall. These are Sweden's first brick-and-mortar casinos and are operated by Casino Cosmopol, a Swedish-owned company. All profits go to the Swedish government.
2002: A third Casino Cosmopol facility is opened in Guthenberg.
2002: Non-profit Swedish organizations are permitted to use online games as a means of gathering revenue.
2003: The fourth, and final, Casino Cosmopol facility is opened in Stockholm.
2003: Svenska Spel is permitted to use online gambling for the purpose of collecting profits.
2008: The EU demands that Sweden open its gaming doors to other members of the union. The country does not comply.
2013: Svenska Spel continues to hold the monopoly on gambling, but rumors circulate that the country may be consideringcompliance with the EU's demands.
The Lotteries Act
The Lotteries Act of Sweden answers most questions that might arise about the gambling industry. It defines “lottery” as any game of chance that involves guessing, betting, machines, dice, and cards. Whether a prize is awarded or not, any game of chance is considered a lottery in Sweden.
Non-profit groups are permitted to run lotteries as a means of gaining revenue for their service. Private companies, however, are forbidden to run lotteries as a means of gaining profit. The only other entity that may run lotteries for profit is the government; this profit must be somehow applied toward the public good.
Svenska Spel, according to the act, may install token machines in alcohol-serving restaurants, hotels, and bingo halls. The Swedish Gambling Authority, under direct supervision of the government, must license all such facilities and machines. The only exception to this licensing requirement is in the case of amusement games that do not offer prizes. Amusement games in which prizes cannot be won do not require licensing.
Besides the Swedish government, other entities which may issue licenses include municipalities and country administrative boards. Some non-prizewinning games are not granted licenses by the Lotteries Act on the grounds that they might be harmful to children. This includes some video games involving guns and violence.
One of the most significant aspects of the Lotteries Act is its prohibition of lottery advertisement outside of Sweden. A Swede who advertises a lottery business outside of the country faces a fine or imprisonment. The one big exception to this rule is the advertisement of Sweden's four brick-and-mortar casinos abroad.
Brick and Mortar Casinos in Sweden
Casino Cosmopol's four facilities operate in the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, and Sundsvall. Casino Cosmopol, a state-owned entity, ensures that all profits are yielded back to the government. The casinos follow Sweden's strict gambling rules, including the forbiddance of gambling on credit and the prohibition of entry for those under the age of 20. These facilities, unlike other places in the world, do not offer luxurious accommodations and entertainment to the degree that places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City do.
Swedish Gambling Preferences
Swedish gamblers enjoy standard casino games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and sic bo, along with token machines, or slots. Gaming opportunities can be found at local bars and hotels and at any of the country's four major casinos. As the activity of online gambling becomes more accepted, an increased number of Swedes are finding joy in cyber gambling. The country offers the world a large buffet of games from which to choose.
Internet Gambling in Sweden
As of yet, Svenska Spel maintains control over online gambling in Sweden. This means little to gambling patrons abroad, save the fact that money lost from customers' pockets directly lines the pockets of Swedish government. Experts speculate that if Svenska Spel ever releases its tight reign on online casinos in Sweden, foreign markets will be ready to dive right in.
For now, the Swedish government maintains all control over online gambling. Current laws make it difficult for natives to participate in online games outside of their own country, and also difficult for members of other European Union to peddle their online services to members of Sweden. It is acceptable, however, for both Swedes and foreigners to play Swedish cyber games, and there are a great many to be found online.