Sweden reregulates gambling market

(Source: Unsplash/Raphael Andres)

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Coming into effect on 1 January 2019, Sweden reregulated its gambling market. The new legislation might make the environment more attractive for international operators, according to press reports. Malta is home to many iGaming companies with roots in Sweden, and pundits keep close eyes on progress to see how the new regulations can affect the global landscape.

The most recent reregulation was preceded by years of planning and takes place in an environment where Norway and Finland appear to hold strong gambling monopoly. Marching in the footsteps of Denmark, Sweden seems to open up its iGaming industry for private sectors, with the new legislation.

Under the new Swedish gambling law (SFS 2018:1138), companies are due to pay 18% tax for commercial gaming, a 0% tax rate applies for non-profit gambling activities, six different license types are available with prices varying from SEK 400,000-700,000 (roughly €38,200-€66,900), and an 18+ age limit is set for online gambling while a 21+ age limit applies to enter a physical casino, according to a report by gambling.com.

The new legislation is expected to create a safer market, improve consumer protection and game security, as well as provide clear market conditions. In the new environment, players can pause their accounts nationwide with a single action, as well as control tightens over illegal gambling activities.

All eyes on Malta

Malta is home to a handful of international iGaming operators and software providers, who are based in Sweden but carry out the bulk of their operations in the tiny Mediterranean island, so much so that Malta is often referred to as an iGaming hub.

The sector directly accounted for 11.3% of Malta’s gross value added — more than €1.1bn — in 2017 according to NSO statistics, after the country was the first to regulate the market in 2004. In 2017, the watchdog Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) issued a total of 165 new remote gaming licences, according to a report by EY in 2018.

Malta has seen the presence of Swedish software providers NetEnt, Evolution Gaming and Play’n GO, as well as casino operators Mr Green, Unibet, and Leo Vegas. These iGaming giants all have roots in Sweden but are also registered and therefore have operations in the island country. As a result, attention has risen over the market to see how the re-regulated Swedish environment would affect the sentiment in here.

The Maltese iGaming sector also needs to keep an eye out on Spain that has recently approved a remarkable tax cut of 5% for iGaming operator revenues. Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) and LeoVegas have already targeted the market by announcing expansion over there.