The iGaming expert Jaser Davari talks about the rise of poker in Sweden and its contribution to the Swedish gambling industry.
Poker is a very popular game and is played worldwide. Is the game of poker legal in Sweden?
In Sweden, too, poker is popular and one of the most played games by citizens. In fact, many of the world’s most successful players are from Sweden. The only gambling authority, Svenska Spel in Sweden, offers online poker to citizens. Many players enjoy online poker on different offshore sites. It is legal for players to play online poker on both native and offshore sites. Many sites like PokerStars, 888Poker, and iPoker allow players to enjoy the thrill of playing poker online. Here anyone above 18 years of age can play poker for real money.
What was the monopoly on online poker in the country?
The Swedish government maintained a monopoly on all forms of gambling, including online poker in the country, to control problem gambling. As per the law, no other than Svenska Spel was allowed to operate gambling in Sweden. However, players also visited several offshore websites that offered online poker to them. Svenska Spel was the only government-sanctioned online poker operator in Sweden.
Players were not always happy about this. In 2014, even the EU Commission took the Swedish government to court for this issue. As we know that playing poker for real money is legal in many other EU members, this monopoly drew criticism from other European Union members.
Jaser Davari also shed light on the response of the EU on this matter when we interviewed him further.
Can you tell us why the EU responded in such a way over this issue?
European Members provide a common market for goods and services. In simpler terms, free trade and free movement of labor and capital are allowed among the members of the European members. Now, the monopoly in Sweden was a hindrance in the common market as companies from other EU member states were only able to enter the Swedish market under the same conditions as a Swedish company.
Playing online poker for real money was always legal in other European Union member states. So as per the rules of the common market, all European Union residents, whether they live in Sweden or any other member state, could choose from different service providers in any market. Now, you can see why the state-enforced monopoly in Sweden was against European Union law. However, that monopoly has ended now, and the situation of online poker in the country has also improved.
How did the monopoly end, and what is the situation now?
After five years of raising the issue, the Swedish government changed its online poker laws. Now according to the new law, the online gambling market in Sweden is liberalized, and companies from other European Union member states can apply for a Swedish license and legally operate in the country. However, many online poker companies such as PokerStars and Unibet have been avoiding Swedish gambling laws and are freely accepting Swedish players.
After the introduction of this law, several operators applied for Swedish licenses, and many new online gambling sites were launched in Sweden. This basically ended Svenska Spel’s state monopoly over online poker.
Does Sweden host any poker tournaments for gambling enthusiasts in the country?
Yes. Sweden has hosted many popular poker tournaments as well as many respectable local tournaments. In fact, Sweden is home to some of the finest poker players. These players are known worldwide for their skills. Online poker is massively popular in Sweden, and many players who started out with a tiny bankroll make their living by playing poker and are professionals now.
Well, we have a last question for you Mr. Jaser Davari. Will the situation of online poker in Sweden be changed in the future?
Since the new gambling law, a lot of progress has been made in the Swedish gambling market. The online gambling market has grown impressively, and there’s surely no place for a gaming monopoly. In the future, we might see a change in Swedish laws over online poker. It is possible that the government will make gambling a bit more available to players. Poker players from Sweden can play wherever they want. Whether it is an online poker site with a Swedish license or without a Swedish license, players can visit the site, which offers the best possible service.
Today, many international online poker sites are providing a safer and better-regulated gaming environment to players. Moreover, offering numerous poker promotions to Swedish poker players will surely attract many customers to try their luck. Many people think that poker is one of the most profitable games out there. This is why the online poker environment requires a dedicated online platform and deep knowledge to allow players to enjoy this wonderful game.