In Sweden, the first pari-mutuel betting on horse racing occurred in 1814 and a horse racing organization was established in 1831. In 1934, Tipstjänst (the Tip Service) was created as the first Swedish regulatory body and was aimed at regulating horse racing and monitoring illegal gambling. Nine years later, the Swedish government acquired the body and consequently made gambling a state monopoly.However, the first appearance of a form of gambling in Sweden was in 1715, when a special lottery was conceded to fund the creation of a base plate for the present statue at Gustav Adolf Square in Stockholm. From there, a number of lotteries were organized for special purposes within the country.
This continued until April 1771, when the then-King of Sweden, Gustav III, sponsored the creation of Kungliga Nummerlotteriet (the Royal Number Lottery). The lottery’s first draw was in May 1773 and was active until it was later abolished in 1841 for moral reasons. (In December 1840, the last draw – 1143rd – took place.) Lottery games still existed in the country despite the fact that there was no legal operator; instead, German, Hungarian, and Danish lotteries sold tickets and scratch cards to Swedes.
By 1897, cash prizes were being organized to raise funds for the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) and the General Arts and Industry Exhibition in Stockholm following the creation of the Money Lottery. Similarly, the lottery was used in 1914 and 1923 to raise funds for the Baltiska Utställningen (Baltic Exhibition) and the Göteborg Utställningen (Göteborg Exhibition), respectively.
The lottery was fully licensed in 1938 following a number of motions in the Swedish Parliament and became Svenska Penninglotteriet AB (Svenska Penninglotteriet Aktiebolag) as a state monopoly to operate a variety of lottery games. The operation of lottery games started in 1939 with a capital of SEK 100,000. A whopping revenue of SEK 3.8 billion and surplus of SEK 1.6 million was generated in 1993. The surplus was utilized for public, cultural and social developments.
Ironically, Svenska Penninglotteriet AB was merged together with Tipstjänst in 1997 (exactly, a century from the creation of the Money Lottery) to form state-owned gambling operator AB Svenska Spel. In 1999, AB Svenska Spel received a license to operate six casinos in Sweden. The company created Casino Cosmopol which opened its first casino in Sundsvall on July 1, 2001. On December 8 of the same year, its second casino opened in Malmö. The third casino opened on August 31, 2002, in Gothenburg while the fourth and last casino opened on March 13, 2003, in Stockholm.
Similar to other European territories, Casino Cosmopol is a state monopoly and the only company licensed to operate a casino within the length and breadth of Sweden. The company transfers all its revenues to the Swedish National Treasury (under Finansdepartementet, the Ministry of Finance).
Further, AB Svenska Spel launched a gambling website on March 30, 2006, which offers sports betting, bingo, poker, and a number of lottery games. And Swedes are allowed to gamble on offshore gambling websites offering any of the legal gambling activities licensed within the European Economic Area – but this became legal very recently.
Pertaining the legal characteristic of gambling in Sweden, all forms of gambling have been legal, licensed, regulated, and monitored for a while now. In fact, there are more than 50 forms of gambling specifically stated in the gambling laws of the country. Rare gambling activities such as sighthounds racing are legal. The first Act – the Gaming Machines Act – was approved in 1982 and the most recent Act – the Casino Act – was approved in 1999, which emphasizes the monopoly of AB Svenska Spel as the ‘only’ casino operator within the country.
The ATG (Swedish Jockey Club) is the Horse Racing Company of Sweden and was founded in 1974. The state-owned private company operates a number of games such as V75, V64, V86, V65, GS75, V3, V4, V5, Dagens Dubbel, Trio, Top 7, Lunch Dubbel, Tvilling, Komb, Harry Boy, VR, Raket, Plats, V&P, and Vinnare. Summarily, the ATG deals with fixed-odds and pari-mutuel horse racing betting while AB Svenska Spel deals with all other gambling activities.
Additionally, there is a regulatory body in Sweden – Lotteriinspektionen (the Swedish Gambling Authority) – which deals with the licensing, regulation, monitoring, auditing, and supervision of all gambling activities and facilities (especially casinos, lotteries, gaming machines, and bingo halls) within the country. The Authority works with respect to the Gaming Machines Act of 1982, the Lotteries Act of 1994 with the amendment of 2002, and the Casino Act of 1999.
The most recent update to the gambling industry of Sweden was in 2017 when a new gambling bill was proposed. Also, the Lotteries Act of 1994 was elucidated to reinforce the state monopoly over lotteries. It is quite ironical; despite pressures from the European Union and the European Commission, Swedish state monopoly on gambling seems everlasting.