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Bitcoin Gambling Laws: Sweden

In what had been billed as the mother of all battles, the Swedish parliament on June 7, 2018, voted to overwhelming support the new Swedish gambling laws confounding both friend and foe. After countless, sometimes breathless debating sessions in the floor of the house, and which often appeared unpredictable, Urban Christian Ahlin, the speaker, and his troops in the Riksdag (Sweden’s unicameral legislature ) did not disappoint.

Finally, Sweden’s big army of online gaming enthusiasts had the last laugh on that warm afternoon as the house finally granted their wish by permitting unrestricted access to online casinos.

Urban Ahlin, Riksdag’s speaker

To the players, this felt like more of a new dawn than even a re-regularization; such was the party that you could easily forget that the Nordic country had a fairly lenient law- Sweden’s Gambling Act (1994) all this long.

The New Sweden Gambling Act Has Segmented the Lucrative Industry

Swedes love affair with gambling has left them broken-hearted not once, not twice in the past as a result of restrictive legislation. But here, in 2018, they are finally ready to join the bandwagon and venture all-in with a fresh spirit.

Each game won, and the betting fever is back in Stockholm, in a big, bold way. The real goal of the new laws (SFS 2018:1138) is to bring order to Sweden’s gambling market in addition to delivering more protection to players. They all say the wait has been very worthy because the market, which has been under the yoke of the government as a monopoly for many years has lastly been thrust open.

Instead, the potentially hugely lucrative industry is being divided into three competitive sections;

1. Online betting and gaming.

2. A sector reserved exclusively for public purposes.

3. A sector reserved solely for the State.

Swedish Parliament in Session

The laws, expected to breath fresh air into the national gambling scene by the time they officially come into use in January 2019 consists of both a sweeping framework and a detailed licensing system. On grabbing a piece of the cake, it’s not going to be any different here:

The kingdom has imposed an 18% excise duty on earned profits- a healthy percentage by any standards- to be collected by the skatteverket (Sweden’s Tax Authority). There’s going to be new more money from the hefty licensing fees, predicted to be in millions of kronas considering the high number of online gaming companies which have for long been drooling over the Swedish market.

Furthermore, operators will also be covered by Sweden’s Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing (and Prevention) Act (SFS 2017:630 or the AML act)Now, gamers world over talk about the harsh atmosphere and how governments diminish their winnings. But here, it’s going to completely opposite.

It only falls on the providers to ensure compliance and voila, its game on! Companies will also be required to put in place measures protecting clients from diverse issues. Proper internal management, respecting the privacy of players’ data, risk management, and continued monitoring of transactions make up some of the new requirements. Interestingly, what is happening in today’s liberal society in Sweden is quite contrary to the developments in the neighboring Norway where the authorities have consistently rejected calls to review the draconian gambling laws.

Operators Must Be Licensed To Provide Online Gaming in Sweden

To provide any form of gaming services, all operators are required to apply for a license from the regulator, lotteriinspektionen (Lottery inspection), soon to be renamed The rules are the same even for all betting games including those provided online and targeting the fast-growing Swedish market Only computer, amusement, and parlor games plus games of skill are spared. However, Internet-based casinos accepting Bitcoin payments are not exempt meaning operators such as BetEast and Lucky2u must fulfill the said requirements. Providers established outside the EEA (European Economic Area) are to have a permanent representative residing in Sweden.

Sweden and Cryptocurrencies

So far, Sweden hasn’t enacted any law on virtual currencies. That said, the central bank (Riksbank) has previously released a statement to the effect that cryptos are not money and that Swedes should trade it with care.

There is, however, no evidence that the declaration has had any negative effects on the Bitcoin trade and its believed that a significant number of gamers from Sweden bet in the Bitcoin.

It’s also not clear what will ultimately become of cryptos here even as some countries like India mulls about legalizing virtual money.

What The New Law Says On Payments’ Processing

We all know that authorities in controlling countries block payments and end up hurting even the luckiest of gamers.

Forthwith in Sweden, providers including those intending to accept Bitcoin payments are supposed to register all players on their platforms first. They are then, subsequently to open a gaming account for each registered client. Then, as part of keeping money launderers at bay, these companies are expected to undertake due diligence before processing new registrations. When we come to payments, the law prohibits the transfer of value (cash payouts and other bonuses) between different accounts as a precautionary measure against clever criminals. The law goes a step further to specify that licensed betting companies can only receive payments from a state-authorized payment service provider as per the terms set by the country’s Payment Services Act (SFS 2010: 751).

The Law Has Factored in the GDPR

Admittedly, the law is one of the most conclusive ever enacted in the betting scene anywhere.

For example, even though the debate on the GDPR started a couple of years back,  and came into force earlier this year, many countries are yet to incorporate regulations covering personal data in their legislation. The passage of Sweden’s SFS 2018:1138 gambling act is, therefore, being seen as a watershed moment in the industry as it has captured several GDPR demands.

To illustrate, operators can research personal information about individuals- depending on defined categories – but cannot disclose it to third parties without the subject’s permission. The players themselves must be a minimum 18 years to be accepted.

Blatant Marketing Has Been Restricted

Perhaps Unsurprisingly, considering that many countries feel that Betting firms sometimes engage in harmful marketing games, Sweden has moved in to control betting Ads. It has outlawed any Advertisements from unlicensed operators and instructed that even allowed operations can only run moderate marketing campaigns. The Lotteriinspektionen has notably been vocal, warning local media against dealing with offshore gambling operators.

Court of Appeal: Jönköping

Indeed, just recently, the court of Appeal sitting in Jönköping upheld an earlier lower court ruling that Ads that had run in two local media outlets had contracted the country’s laws.

The Sanctions Have Improved Player Protection

Licensed providers are obligated to do all within their powers to protect addicted players (duty of care) lest they suffer penalties. It’s also mandatory to have an online self-testing tool to gauge a customer’s gambling behavior. Prospects who display signs of an unhealthy gaming trend should not be admitted or retained. Offering bonuses or credits on stakes to gamers with problematic gambling history has also been banned as part of the regulator’s effort to rein on in the addictive play.

Wrap-Up

The Sweden gambling field is set for a thrilling time ahead as the new laws come into effect from January 1st, 2019. Already, some have applied for licenses while many others are in the preliminaries.

This cuts across the entire industry. We even have had some sites like Bitcasino.io adding Ethereum and mobile payments, perhaps in anticipation. Surely, both player and providers have a reason to be optimistic that finally, it’s a brand new dawn in Moder Svea.

 

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