Until 1997, gambling in Sweden was controlled by the government run company Svenska Spel. Since then, regulations have changed – although not relaxed particularly – to allow private and international companies to operate legally. A number of gambling companies have started trading in Sweden which has created a very competitive market. Soon to join the fray is Gala.se, the Swedish link in the Gala Coral chain. Gala operate all traditional and modern casino games, as well as bingo and themed slots games. The brand is one of the most popular in the UK, and looks to bring its culture of community, and responsible gaming ethic, to Scandinavia. Sweden is well known for producing hugely successful poker players – so what are the options for poker fans in Sweden today?
The main poker websites that offer software in Swedish, and operate internationally, are: PokerStars, Bet24, Betsson, Party Poker, Everest and Unibet. Bet365 was one of the first international gaming companies to move into Sweden. The company runs poker tournaments alongside the mainstream casino games, as does Ladbrokes, a hugely successful company which is one of the biggest in the UK. It has cemented its success by having a presence on the high street as well as operating online. Whether gaming companies will open shops in Sweden as well as trading on the web could be a deciding factor in who comes out on top of the market. While online poker has the draw of being convenient, 24 hours, and suitable for beginners who want to practice their hand without losing money, for some there isn’t a substitute for playing live games in the presence of other people.
There are plenty of professional poker players who have developed their entire career by playing online, and the appearance of Gala.se on the Swedish poker scene could benefit budding professionals. This is as well as providing the opportunity for amateurs who want to play for fun to enjoy online poker. Poker sites have been recognised as being one of the safest ways to gamble, as the responsible gaming directives are so strict. The lack of a market monopoly also means that the options available to online poker players in Sweden have multiplied. Different sites run different types of tournaments, and they also have different styles, different types of players and cultures. The future of poker in Sweden appears to be bright, and how the sport develops under the new laws will be interesting to watch.