Sweden made new changes to online gambling laws in 2018. The goal of this change was to force out any casino without a license. It allowed foreign operators to apply for a license in Sweden and provided enhanced protection to players.
Opening up the market to foreign operators led to an increase in the availability of online casinos. This however was not the only change that was affected.
The Swedish gambling authority covers common laws and regulations in the online casino business in Sweden. The Swedish Gambling Act was enacted into force in January 2019. According to this act, any gambling directed at the Swedish market without the provision of a license is illegal. It is also considered illegal to aid and abet such gambling.
Illegal gambling/playing without a license is however a common trend in Sweden. At least a third of online casino players specifically search for illegal casinos to play in. To understand the cause and effect of this, you can learn more here.
To own a license in Sweden, there are certain terms and conditions. If these terms are not met or are violated, a gambling license can be denied or revoked. There are a couple of terms and conditions under the gambling act that dictate that licenses will only be granted to those who;
- Have knowledge, experience, and organization to run a casino
- Will run in accordance with acts that govern the industry
- Are deemed fit in other respects.
The changes that were put into place with the latest gambling act include:
Removal of bonus offers: Prior to the new laws, casinos could offer welcome bonuses and bonuses on ongoing deals. However, the new terms and conditions for licensing dictate that an important restriction be put in place. Under the new act, a license holder may provide bonuses or promotional incentives the first time a player participates in the license holder’s games only i.e welcome bonuses are allowed but not bonuses on ongoing deals. The Swedish Gambling Authority imposes high fines against those who violate this rule. The downside of this rule is that it restricts promotional activities. Given that a bonus is any discount or similar financial incentive directly linked to gambling, the possibilities of promotional activities or rebates are very limited. This is just one of the responsible gambling measures put in place for legal gambling. This lack of bonuses alone has driven many players to play at unlicensed casinos that offer unlimited and unrestricted bonuses.
3-Second Slot Rule: The Swedish gambling act also imposed the 3-second rule for slot games. Now, there is a 3-second period in between spins. This was put in place to prevent players from rushing to the next spin and hopefully curb gambling problems. Fr slots fans, this is an inconvenience that can be avoided by playing at unlicensed casinos.
2020 Regulatory Changes
With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, further restrictions were placed on gambling sites to ensure players were able to strike a balance while playing online. A mandatory weekly deposit limit of SEK5,000 per week was put in place with a bonus limit of SEK100. Time limits were also set. There have already been negative results. Players want the freedom to play as often as they like with amounts within their budget without restrictions. So they prefer unlicensed casinos that do not have the hassle of these restrictions.
Benefits of Casino without a license
Asides from the lack of restriction and freedom to play, with unlicensed casinos, players can keep all payouts and bonuses and not be taxed. Despite being unlicensed, these casinos still offer player protection, secure access, trusted banking options, and some of the best games online on the web
Risks of Unlicensed Casino
As expected, playing at casinos not approved by the government is not without its attendant risks. These include:
- Limited player protection
- Transactions are not guaranteed secure
- Non-payment of winnings is a possibility
- Games are not audited by third-party companies
- Bonuses can have high wagering requirements
- Complaints cannot be filed with a regulatory body
- SEK may not be supported as a currency
To play real money games and win real money, Swedish players have turned to online casino sites.
There was a press release by Europeangaming.eu in May 2020 reporting that the search for unlicensed online casinos had surged by 700%. Data by other sources also showed a substantial number of unlicensed operators specifically targeting Swedish players.
The restrictions on online casinos were put in best to protect players, the result has been players turning to sites where the government cannot protect them. Unlicensed brands are booming.
This is a cue for the government to strongly reconsider its stance and to reduce restrictions on online gambling to reduce the surge in black market activity. If these restrictions stay on for much longer, it would be hard to ever lure players away from illegal gambling.