scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, gambling, regulations

Trial and Error Methods in Scandinavian Gambling – Who Is Regulating It Best?

The Gambling industry in Scandinavia has seen some of the strictest regulations. In this article, we will take a closer look at the positive and negative sides of each of these countries’ approaches to regulate gambling, and try to understand who benefits the most when the rules are as restrictive as they are in the north.


Norway has officially been a gambling monopoly for more than half a century. Officially, there are only two gambling companies that people can play with: one covering all sports events (Norsk Tipping), and another dedicated to horse betting (Rikstoto). Any other companies that wanted to target Norwegian users had to do it illegally, as there was no way to obtain a license. However, there weren’t many obstacles for those who wanted to work without a license, and for decades, Norwegians could enjoy a variety of gambling options with international companies without taking any risks. 

That, however, changed with recent efforts by Norwegian authorities to stop international betting companies from operating in Norway. They simply introduced fees for every day that companies continued to work in Norway. The results came immediately. Almost every big international betting company stopped their operations in Norway. This left the void in the market that small, low quality betting sites already filled in. Now, Norwegian users are left with no safety net and lower lever of services. 


In Finland, a similar situation forced the government to reconsider the value of a monopoly. After being a closed market for years, they now are ready to introduce a license system. From 2026, betting companies will be allowed to buy licenses and work legally in Finland. The reason for such a change is the acknowledgement that monopoly did not stop betting companies from working in Finland. Instead, it created an uncontrolled black market. Now, Finland wants to maintain gambling money inside the country and be able to control gambling companies. 


Sweden, so far, has been the most progressive of all the Scandinavian countries. After opening their market in 2019, they allowed any betting company to work in Sweden, as long as it has a license and follows strict rules and requirements. This way, users have plenty of services to choose from, while their consumers rights are protected, and  companies are international bookmakers are welcome to work and pay taxes in Sweden. 

The situation, however, might change if the new consumer protection law takes effect. This bill, that is designed to protect the users, includes allowing gambling companies to have access to the users’ bank accounts, in order to see if their financial situation is good enough to gamble. Consequently, everyone who doesn’t want betting companies into their financial details, will have to turn to illegal operators, and the progress that was made during the last years will be reversed.

At the moment, Scandinavian countries are still being in a trial and error period when it comes to gambling. It will take a few more years to get a better understanding of you is going it better. But for now, we will keep our eyes peeled, and report any changes right back to you!


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