Online gambling laws can be confusing for people who don’t have a deep knowledge of international law. Also, the laws and regulations are changing all the time and it is hard to keep up. Gambling online is a relatively new phenomenon as it only started in the late 90s. So, is it illegal to play at online casinos? Are all online casinos legal/illegal?
These are the questions we are going to answer in this article. Dominic Andreasson, a Swedish iGaming expert helped us write this article with special emphasis on Swedish players. Read more about Dominic here.
Which online casinos are legal?
In order to start an online casino, operators have to be registered and compliant with at least one jurisdiction or country. If they don’t, they will be illegally operating and can face being shut down, fined, prosecuted and blacklisted. But what playing at an illegal casino means for the players is even more upsetting. If you play at an unlicensed casino, you will have no one to turn to if you are scammed or simply the casino doesn’t want to pay out your winnings.
When you sign up on an online casino’s website you should be able to find their licensing information at the bottom section of their landing page. You can use our online casino list with peace of mind, as all the casinos on our site are licensed.
Where can the license come from?
Many countries offer their own gambling licenses but apart from these, there are a number of offshore jurisdictions that give out casino licenses. When companies get these, they can offer a wide range of business activities, such as sports betting, online bingo, online lotto, casino, poker, esports, and any other games of chance.
The most important online casino license jurisdictions are Malta, Curacao, Kahnawake, the UK, and the Isle of Man. When a business is registered with the gaming authority or commission of the above jurisdictions they have to comply with a set of legal and financial regulations. They are regularly auditing casinos and they can help players sort out issues with the casinos they are regulating.
Some EU governments have tried to stop online gambling with foreign-registered casinos as in these countries the gambling industry is the monopoly of the state. For example, Hungary and Poland have implemented blocking foreign websites and enforcing local banks and internet service providers not to comply with providing services to these sites. This is though against the free trade idea within the EU and is ground to many legal battles between casinos and governments.
On 1st January 2019 Sweden introduced a new gambling law whereby casinos can apply for a license and be 100% licensed in Sweden. This is, of course, very reassuring for many players as it guarantees more security for them. However, getting an extra license is pricey so many casinos that offer services to Swedish players won’t apply for a Swedish license.
It is, however, legal for Swedish players to play at a foreign-registered casino. Playing at online casino with a Swedish license has its advantages and disadvantages. The good side is that this option is the safest and it is very easy to get help if you feel that the casino was unfair to you. The disadvantage is that you can only play at a limited number of casinos if you only consider the Swedish-licensed ones. You will also miss out on regular bonuses and the deposit methods won’t be as great either.
A note on taxation
It is worth noting that if you play legally and win you will have no tax to pay if the casino is licensed in an EU or EEA country. However, if you win at a casino that is licensed in the UK, Gibraltar, Kahnawake or Curacao you are liable to pay 30% tax after your winnings.
As a Swedish player, you can play at online casinos that have a valid casino license with a gambling licensing jurisdiction. You can choose to play at a casino that has a Swedish license but you are not required to do this.