The Lotteries Act
The Swedish Lotteries Act defines a lottery as the drawing of lottery tickets, guessing, betting, bingo games, slot machines, roulette games as well as dice and card games. This definition of a lottery is not dependent on whether a stake is paid or not.
The drawing of tickets, guessing, betting and bingo games
The arrangement of a lottery is a privilege which in Sweden mainly is exercised by non-profit associations, horse racing associations and the national lotteries.
In order for a non-profit association to arrange a lottery in Sweden its principal purpose must be the promotion of objects which are of public benefit. Such non-profit associations may obtain permits to arrange traditional lotteries, guessing and bingo games.
The Gambling Authority is responsible for issuing permits for lotteries which are to be arranged in more than one county. Applications for permits regarding smaller lotteries are handled by regional or local (county or municipal) authorities.
Further conditions which need to be met by a non-profit association in order for them to obtain a permit are:
- the payout percentage must be at least 35 percent but no more than 50 percent and
- it can be assumed that the lottery will give the applicant reasonable revenue which will be used for the relevant object of public benefit.
The government has granted AB Svenska Spel (the national lottery which is owned in its entirety by the state) and ATG (a state-controlled company owned by the horse racing associations) exclusive permits to arrange certain lotteries and forms of gambling. Svenska Spel has an exclusive right to arrange sports betting (a few exceptions for local events) and ATG has an exclusive right to arrange horse race betting.
Token machines are essentially the only type of gaming machines allowed. Token machines pay winnings in the form of certificates of value, which may be exchanged for cash. They are allowed in hotels or restaurants holding a permit to serve alcohol as well as in bingo halls. A permit to arrange gaming on token machines may only be granted to state-owned gaming companies. Svenska Spel has been granted a permit by the government to arrange gaming on a maximum number of 7500 token machines.
The Swedish gambling market only allows commercial interests in exceptional cases. The most important exceptions to the main rule are card-, dice- and roulette games which may be arranged in hotels or restaurants holding a permit to serve alcohol. These are known as restaurant casinos. The Lotteries Act contains detailed regulations for said games; the stakes and prizes are very limited among other things (in roulette the stakes and prizes may not be higher than 6 SEK and 200 SEK respectively).
Online lotteries etc
Non-profit associations which as their principal purpose have the promotion of objects that are of public interest may since 1 August 2002 obtain permits to arrange lotteries which are distributed by means of electromagnetic waves (e.g. Internet, mobile telephony and digital TV). Svenska Spel and ATG have the same possibility since 1 January 2003. The Gambling Authority has issued regulations with specific technical requirements relating to the equipment used in these lotteries.
Prohibition of promoting participation
In order to uphold the Swedish gambling regime the Lotteries Act contains a prohibition of promoting participation in lotteries arranged outside Sweden and unlawful lotteries. The prohibition of participation in foreign or unlawful lotteries covers such activities as selling lottery tickets, receiving stakes or passing on prizes and advertising.
If a permit holder fails to comply with the provisions of the Lotteries Act or other regulations issued pursuant to the Act, the authority granting the permit may issue a warning or revoke the permit. Supervisory authorities may issue orders and prohibitions required for compliance with the Lotteries Act or other regulations issued pursuant to the Act.
A fine or a maximum of two years’ imprisonment may be imposed on persons who unlawfully arrange a lottery or promote participation in gaming arranged outside Sweden.
The Casinos Act
The Casinos Act is a special legislation for casino gaming with international gaming rules. The Act covers issues such as age limits, registration of visitors, the prohibition of granting credits as well as the prohibition of employees participating in casino gaming. Only companies which are owned by the state may obtain a permit to arrange casino gaming and in Sweden the government has granted Svenska Spel such a permit. At the moment there are four casinos in Sweden, located in the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Sundsvall.