Sweden Starts to Issue Online Licenses Ahead of New Year Changes

Sweden has issued its first set of online gambling licenses to 16 companies in a “historic step”.

The companies that have received licenses in this first wave of approvals include bet365, Betsson, Unibet and state-controlled Svenska Spel and ATG. The licenses become valid on 1 January 2019, as the country’s new gambling law comes into effect.

The head of the Swedish Gambling Authority, Camilla Rosenberg, said it was “a historic day” for the country.

Licenses for 12 gambling operators

The initial set of licenses were issued by the Lotteriinspektionen, the Swedish gaming regulator, and will be valid as of 1 January when the country’s new gaming laws come into effect. There have been 16 licenses issued to 12 different gaming operators, including big names such as bet365 and Betsson.

The regulator – due to be renamed as the Spelinspektionen (Gambling Inspectorate) next year – issued a statement last week confirming it had received 95 license applications to date, from 70 gambling companies that are involved in the online gambling market.

The inspectorate’s rebranding comes as its scope will widen once the new laws that are coming into play in the country take effect. The first wave of licenses applies to 12 different operators, which also include Casumo, Interwetten, LeoVegas and Tombola.

Rosenberg said last Friday that the license approvals marked a “historic day for gambling in Sweden” and praised her staff for processing the large volume of applications while “under severe pressure”.

Companies that have not been approved in the first wave of applications have been assured that if they submitted a complete application within the time frame, they would receive a decision on their application in the coming weeks. Specific time frames will vary depending on the complexity of each application.

State-owned operator also licensed

Unsurprisingly, the state-owned operator Svenska Spel has received one of the licenses, as have AB Trav and Galopp.

The Betsson Group, which secured its licence for online gaming and betting, brought its total number of permits to 12 and released a statement that said: “The gaming license enables competition on equal terms and gives Swedish customers access to the games they desire under a Swedish regulation, which on the long term is positive for customers, operators, and shareholders.

“It is good that Sweden opens up the gaming market for free competition in a controlled environment. We look forward to operating on our Swedish home market as a recognized operator on equal terms.”

Rosenberg also stated that the gambling reform is aiming to encourage operators that already aim their products at the market to become licensed, and initial uptake would indicate that the hunger from operators is definitely there.

She said: “Since one of the purposes of gambling reform was to achieve a high channeling, it is encouraging that many bookmakers [already] aimed at the Swedish market will be part of the new license market by year-end.”

Sweden’s parliament passed laws to re-regulate gambling in the country after years of debate on the topic. The growth of the offshore market led to concern over the current lack of regulation, leading to the new licensing system being launched.

In order to become licensed, operators must pay a $45,900 fee for the license if they are operating a land-based company, or just under double that figure if they are looking to work online only.