Sweden online poker overview
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In theory, Sweden’s government has a monopoly on all forms of online gambling, including poker. In practice, it doesn’t enforce this law. The only party that seems interested in making sure the laws are followed seems to be state-owned poker operator Svenska Spel. It employs aggressive marketing strategies with the goal of convincing Swedish players its poker room is safer and more reliable than alternatives. While this is most likely not true, the strategy seems to work.
Sweden online poker laws
Gambling in Sweden is covered by two pieces of legislation: the 1994 Lottery Act (Lotterilagen) and the 1999 Casinos Act (Kasinolag). The government theoretically enforces the monopoly afforded by these laws via the Gaming Board of Sweden, or Lotteriinspektionen. It’s responsible for issuing gambling licenses and monitoring the local market.
What is or is not legal in Sweden?
The Lottery Act makes it illegal to promote gambling-related products and services not licensed by the Gaming Board of Sweden. However, much like in the case of Spain, the law doesn’t allow authorities to punish Sweden residents for playing on offshore poker rooms. Sites like Ladbrokes have actually launched promotions specifically targeting Swedes in the past. Plus, Sweden-based players joined sites like PokerStars in droves ever since Chris Moneymaker won his first WSOP bracelet.
Sweden and poker-related taxes
If you play on a site hosted in a European Union/European Economic Community member state, then general lottery rules apply. You don’t owe the Swedish government anything. However, if the site is hosted outside the EU/EEC, users must pay a 30 percent income tax. Note that Alderney and Isle of Man do not belong to the EU/EEC, while Gibraltar is recognized as a member.
Where can I play poker online in Sweden?
If you don’t want to upset Svenska Spel, you should play on Svenska Spel Poker. Powered by Boss Media software, it’s actually a decent local online poker room with about seven percent of PokerStars’ traffic. Otherwise, we recommend the following options:
It’s the largest online poker site in the world, accounting for over half of the combined traffic on all West-facing sites. PokerStars offers excellent welcome bonuses and recurring promotions, as well as a unique sense of community for its users. That’s a complete package hardly matched by its competition.
This platform gives access to an impressive selection of cash game tables, multi-table tournaments, and S&Gs. Tournament prize pools are among the best in the world, and the poker room’s large player pool means you’ll never have to wait too long for a game to get going. That claim holds true for low, mid, and high-stakes Hold’em cash games, as well as Omaha and even Stud. It adds new SNGs and MTTs constantly.
888 is the second-largest Europe-friendly poker network in the world. Traffic numbers aren’t that impressive in a side-by-side comparison with PokerStars, but its cash games are notorious for being exceptionally soft. That’s particularly true when it comes to low stakes and micros.
Many consider this site all about No-Limit Hold’em. But if Omaha interests you, action picks up during peak traffic hours. S&Gs are available, but high buy-in tournaments usually take a while to start. 888 also wields a fairly solid MTT lineup. But its guaranteed prize pools are significantly lower than on PokerStars.
888poker is also available locally in Spain and New Jersey.
This third option has come a long way since 2001. Yes, partypoker has seen its popularity wax and wane over the years. It used to be the largest card room in the industry, but its popularity took a major hit when it became a hunting ground for hardcore cash game grinders attracted by Party’s amazing rakeback offer. The site’s owners responded by scrapping the offending program. Instead, they focused their attention on recreational players.
In 2018, partypoker seems to be in a good spot. Traffic is steady, and the tournament lineup looks as solid as ever. Cash games on this network are pretty much all about Hold’em. While Stud and Omaha are also represented, getting any action outside of heads-up play is very unlikely, especially if you aren’t interested in low and micro-stakes play. As mentioned earlier, Party also boasts a rather impressive lineup of multi-table tournaments and S&Gs.
Poker enthusiasts from New Jersey, Spain, and France can play on local partypoker sites.
Finally, iPoker is a multi-site network that focuses on traditional poker variants and low-stakes play. It’s not as big of a platform as the aforementioned rooms. But it does deserve recognition simply because certain iPoker skins, such as Ladbrokes, tend to put a lot of emphasis on attracting Sweden-based players.
While iPoker isn’t a massive network, the traffic it gets is more than enough to keep low-stakes cash games and low buy-in multi-table tournaments running on a daily basis. The STT experience is somewhat underwhelming these days. Yet the fast-fold tables are surprisingly smooth for a poker platform of this size.
For those looking, certain iPoker skins are available in Italy, France, and Spain.
Where can I play poker live in Sweden?
Despite the fact that online poker is immensely popular in Sweden, the number of land-based poker rooms is actually very low. Here’s a complete list of those venues:
- Casino Cosmopol Malmo Poker Room (Slottsgatan 33, 211 33 Malmö)
- Casino Cosmopol Stockholm Poker Room (Kungsgatan 65, 111 22 Stockholm)
- Casino Cosmopol Sundsvall Poker Room (Casinoparken 1, 852 29 Sundsvall)
- Baltic Princess Cruise Ship Poker Room (Stockholm, Sweden)
The minimum legal age for participating in both live and online poker games in Sweden is 18.
History of online poker in Sweden
While nobody in Sweden seems to be taking Swedish gambling laws seriously, the European Commission has been pretty adamant about forcing Sweden to change them because of EU anti-monopoly regulations. It sent the first notice to this effect in 2004. Several formal inquiries later, Swedish courts still maintained the monopoly wasn’t in conflict with any international agreements. In 2014, the Commission finally referred Sweden to the Court of Justice to the EU, but nothing came out of the proceedings.
The latest news from the legal front arrived in 2017 when the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden flat-out rejected an appeal from a Maltese gambling company that claimed it had been unfairly refused a license to set up shop on the Swedish horse race betting market.
From a player’s perspective, this legal battle does not make much of a practical difference. Nothing stops Swedes from playing on any poker site they please. The hypothetical EU-compliant piece of legislation most certainly wouldn’t change that.
Visa and MasterCard deposits in Sweden
Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards have a reputation for being extremely unreliable when it comes to iGaming transactions. Is it justified? If you’re living in Sweden, the answer is no.
The bad rep this banking method gets on numerous online poker sites and forums results from United States-specific anti-gambling regulations. In the US, financial institutions really do block about 30 percent of all poker-related transactions, even when funds are sent to a legal, US-licensed site.
Despite the fact that playing on offshore sites is theoretically illegal in Sweden, the nation’s poker enthusiasts don’t have to deal with this problem. That said, keep in mind making a Visa or MasterCard deposit might prevent you from cashing out via an e-wallet because this option is usually available exclusively to customers who have already made a PayPal/Neteller/Skrill payment in the past.