The licensing processi Application and renewal
The GA is based on the general principle that all provision of gambling services aimed at the Swedish market requires a licence. Licences are granted by the Swedish Gambling Authority and may only be granted if it can be presumed that the gambling activities will be executed in a suitable manner, seen from a public perspective.
Any operator that wishes to be granted a licence must have the knowledge, experience and organisation required to conduct the operations, meaning that the Swedish Gambling Authority will assess whether an applicant has sufficient capacity to conduct the relevant gambling operation in terms of staff, management, routines and other organisational resources. The staff's knowledge of the provided gaming and gambling services is of material importance in such assessment. For example, when it comes to online gambling services, the technical competence of the personnel and the applicant's ability to provide a safe gambling environment will constitute an important factor.
Furthermore, it must be expected that the applicant will conduct the operations in accordance with applicable law and other regulations applicable to the operations. The Swedish Gambling Authority will, for example, review the applicant's past compliance with regulations and applicable laws, e.g., in terms of marketing. The ability to follow laws and regulations will also be of importance if a licensee wishes to renew the licence. The Swedish Gambling Authority has stated that operators that have offered their services to the Swedish market unlawfully under the previous legislation or without a licence under the GA risk not being granted a licence, but so far there are no known cases where any applicant has been refused on such grounds.
The applicant must also be deemed suitable in general terms, relating to, for example, financial sturdiness and professionalism. One circumstance that could cause an applicant being deemed as inappropriate is the applicant's past record of non-compliance with laws and regulations or other issues with regards to authorities.
If the applicant is part of a group of companies, the group's competence may, if relevant for the gaming and gambling services, be assimilated by the applicant.
The general requirements of competence, lawfulness and suitability also applies to an applicant's or licensee's board members as well certain staff members and owners.
All gambling systems, business systems, randomisation equipment and physical lottery tickets and bingo cards must meet the technical requirements issued by the Swedish Gambling Authority and must be certified by an accredited body.
Gambling systems must, as a general rule, be placed in Sweden but the Swedish Gambling Authority can make an exception if the applicant has a licence to offer gambling services in another country and is supervised by an authority that the Swedish Gambling Authority has entered into an agreement with for the supervision of gambling services under a Swedish licence. Such agreements have as at March 2019 only been entered into with Malta. Exceptions can also be made if the Gambling Authority can make satisfactory controls of the gambling systems by using remote access or similar tools.
There are six types of gambling licences in Sweden:
- State-run gambling. Includes land-based casinos, gambling machines and lotteries other than bingo, online bingo, computer simulated gaming machines, local pool games and cash gambling machines. Licences can only be applied for by companies owned by the Swedish state.
- Gambling for public interest objectives. Includes bingo and lotteries other than casino games, online bingo, gambling machines or computer simulated gaming machines. Licences can be applied for by public interest associations that promote an undertaking of public utility as their main objective. Furthermore, the association must carry out its operations so as to achieve that objective and it cannot refuse anyone membership in the organisation unless there is a particular reason to do so. Lastly, the association must need the income from gambling services to support its activities in order to be eligible for a licence.
- Commercial online gambling. Includes online casino games, online bingo, computer simulated gaming machines as well as lotteries that are offered as add-on services. Can be applied for by any entity or persons.
- Betting. Includes both online and land-based betting as well as lotteries that are offered as add-on services or to settle interrupted events. Can be sought by any entity or person.
- Land-based gambling. Includes casino games offered at other premises than land-based casinos, gambling machines with winnings in form of goods, and tournament card games. Can be sought by any entity or person. Such Casino games may only be provided in connection with a public fair or in a restaurant or hotel business that holds a valid permit to serve alcoholic beverages. Gambling machines with winnings in form of goods may only be offered at public fairs.
- Gambling on ships in international traffic. Includes gambling machines and casino games that are not offered at a land-based casino.
The application fee for online gambling and betting is 400,000 kronor respectively, or 700,000 kronor if both licences are applied for at the same time. The application fee for state-run and public interest gambling is based on turnover and ranges from 5,000–150,000 kronor. Application fees for the remaining types of licences vary depending on the number of machines, players, etc.
Licences are limited in time, generally for a maximum of five years. If a licensee wishes to extend the licence it must repeat the application process and de facto apply for a new licence.
There is a set minimum age of 18 years for the participation in gambling activities subject to licence, with the exception of land-based casinos where the minimum age is 20. All players must be registered with the licensee and the licensee has to ensure that no one under the minimum age can participate in gambling activities.
All licensees must ensure that social and health considerations are observed in order to protect players from excessive gambling and to help them reduce their gambling when there is such need. The licensees must monitor their players and have routines for contacting identified or suspected problem gamblers.
The GA has introduced a 'self-exclusion' service that licensees must implement. The self-exclusion service means that players must be provided with the possibility to ban themselves from the licensee's services for a fixed time period or until further notice. Operators who offer online casino games, online bingo and online gambling machines must also provide players with the possibility to immediately exclude themselves for 24 hours. Furthermore, players can exclude themselves from all gambling services offered by Swedish licensees for a fixed time period or until further notice by notifying the Swedish Gambling Authority, www.spelpaus.se. Self-exclusion from all licensed gambling services until further notice cannot be lifted until 12 months have passed.ii Sanctions for non-compliance
Arranging gambling services without a licence or promoting the participation in such services is a criminal offence subject to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years, or imprisonment for six months up to six years in severe cases, for example, when the unlawful activities have been conducted systematically or professionally or to a great extent.
The Swedish Gambling Authority may issue remarks, warnings and injunctions as required to ensure compliance with the GA. Injunctions or prohibitions may be combined with fines.
Fines may also be issued if a licensee does not comply with the GA, ranging from 5,000 kronor to 10 per cent of the licensee's turnover for the previous fiscal year from activities that require a licence under the GA. In severe cases of non-compliance, the Swedish Gambling Authority may also revoke the licence.
Licensees are subject to an 18 per cent gambling tax on GGR. The gambling tax is deductible for income tax purposes.
Licensees that are Swedish entities are subject to regular corporate income tax (at present, 22 per cent) that is deductible for income tax purposes. Foreign licensees are subject to corporate income tax on income relating to any permanent establishment in Sweden.
Gambling is not subject to VAT. Winnings from gambling are exempt from taxation if the gambling is arranged within the EU. For gambling arranged outside the EU, any winnings are taxed as income from capital, at a tax rate of 30 per cent.
Winnings from skill-based contests or games are subject to regular income taxation.