The country of Sweden has always had a love affair with poker. It has remained as a popular pastime there, despite the fact that the state has been monopolising the market for many years. Yet, a new law has just passed which will allow international online poker operators to gain a license from the country. This will then see them able to offer up their poker services to residents, thereby ending the state’s hold over things.
It was in June of this year that the approval of these new gambling laws took place, meaning that in due course, Swedish players get to play online poker at international sites. This gives them the chance to battle it out with players from overseas, pretty much rendering the state’s Svenska Spel platform as no longer being the sole choice for gambling.
These new laws that were approved will come into effect at the start of next year – January 1, to be more specific.
It’s not secret that the group of Scandinavian countries have been quite protestive over each of their monopolies on gambling. Yet, while Norway continues onwards with its own strict framework for this, Sweden is taking a step outside the box and going for a more liberal stand.
Why the Sudden Change?
Swedish gamblers may have been pushing for the legalisation of online poker and other options for some time now. Yet, it wasn’t until 2013 when the European Union Commission would criticise the country for its monopoly on the industry that it would have to take notice. The Commission found that Sweden was violating several EU laws – namely, that they had a lack of compliance with a law that said all member countries must allow for overseas operators to be able to obtain licences.
This is, of course, why Norway is standing firm on its current laws. It isn’t a part of the European Union, so does not have to abide by laws thought up by the Commission.
Yet, it has taken several years for the Swedish authorities to pass through laws that will allow for international poker sites to gain access to the country’s gamblers. Svenska Spel will continue to operate in the same way until 2019, when the ban on international poker and gambling platforms will be lifted.
Those same authorities have come to the realisation that it is too hard now to enforce such a strict monopoly on residents of Sweden, due to the fact that the internet and its multiple workarounds not being able to effectively drive such a law. Multiple operators have been active in Sweden without holding a licence from the country, including platforms from 888Poker, PartyPoker and PokerStars.
It is also the feeling that such unregulated gambling methods are a potential fuel for criminal activity in Sweden. The hope is that liberalising the gambling laws will help with resolving – or at least drastically minimising – this problem.
International online poker operators will have the ability to apply for Swedish gambling licences from the first day of August this year and an 18% tax will be levied on those sites that do possess such. This tax does not pertain to Svenska Spel though, which will continue operating and supporting its home country in the hopes of remaining popular with residents.