Swedes - like all other Nordic people - are very fond of gambling. With the spread of the internet, it was natural that gambling was going to be done mostly online and Sweden has been the school-book example of this matter. The country has monitored for years how land-based gambling started shrinking as players gambling habits started to change and the growth of online gambling has been significant in the past 10 years.
This also meant, that more and more foreign gambling companies saw Sweden as a potentially profitable market and started to heavily target their sites to Swedish players. All this was done while Sweden's Svenska Spel had the legal monopoly of the countries gambling. Foreign sites became so popular that in the year 2015 it was registered that they consist more than 55 per cent of the gambling sites Swedes gamble. This meant that domestic regulation had lost its stand in the growing market and it needed to change.
Big changes in Sweden's look on online gambling
Since 2019 Sweden has changed its tactics and started to implement a licensing system for all operators, who were based abroad. It meant that since 1st January 2019 any foreign gambling company who targeted the Swedish market had to apply for a license from the Swedish Gaming Authority, Spelinspektionen. The idea was to smoke out all unregulated foreign operators and to gain profit from taxation and licensing fees.
Meanwhile, the newly implemented Swedish Gambling Act left out foreign sites, meaning Swedes were still able to register and play in online gambling sites that were based abroad without any legal complications. That meant that the online sites in Sweden were split in half: websites with the Swedish license and foreign sites without the Swedish license. You can read more about them from Casino-Utan-Svensk-Licens.net.
Also, the foreign operators have to meet certain terms and conditions to get the license. If they were not met or the terms were violated after the license was issued, the authority would then revoke it or not issue it in the first place. Although in the Gambling Act it is stated that playing in an unlicensed gambling site is illegal, it has not slowed the Swedes down one bit. It is registered that over a third of online gamblers in Sweden especially search for casinos without the Swedish license to play in.
Protecting the Swedish player has put a strain on online operators
During 2020, more and more Swedes turned to online gambling and the Swedish Gaming Authority had to act on this. To protect the Swedish player better, it implemented more strict terms and rules for the online gambling sites under its license. The goal was to create a much-more balanced atmosphere for players and prevent them from creating a gambling problem.
The new terms meant that players were able to deposit no more than 5 000 SEK a week to online gambling sites. Also, casino bonus amounts were limited to 100 SEK and casinos were also ordered to set time limits in gambling sessions. This did not go down well with the Swedish players, who want to gamble as much as they want and with as much money as they want. As a result, Swedes have turned their back to the licensed casinos and started to search for unlicensed sites where they can play hassle-free. In May 2020 it was noted that searches for unlicensed online casinos had increased by 700 per cent in Sweden.
Unlicensed online casinos have their benefits
Even though it might sound as if unlicensed casinos are something to avoid completely, they are not a bad choice. There are still plenty of options to choose from as Sweden is an important market for all online gambling sites. First of all, unlicensed online casinos offer much fewer restrictions and people can play more freely. Also, the player´s winnings and payouts won't be taxed. This only applies, though, to casinos registered in the European Economic Area or the European Union.
Otherwise, unlicensed casinos also offer some sort of player protection, security in transferring funds, reliable ways to transfer money and, for some players, a much better selection of games and bonuses. There also lies the risks of maybe being denied a payout or SEK would not be supported as a currency. Besides casinos without a Swedish license can offer bonuses with higher wagering requirements and by that, they pose a higher risk for problematic gamblers.
New regulations have had an opposite effect
While the Swedish government are looking for more ways to protect Swedish players from harm, the latest changes in the Gambling Act has shown just the opposite. Swedes want freedom and therefore have turned to foreign online gambling sites making it impossible for the Swedish government to protect the players. In the long run, this means Sweden needs to take back the new terms or face the fact that unlicensed casinos will be booming in the future as well.