Vice Squad
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Swedish Internet Poker

While the US does what it can to keep its citizens from gambling on the internet, other nations have taken a different approach. In March, 2006, Sweden's state-owned lottery, sports betting, and casino company, Svenska Spel, opened an internet poker facility, available only to Swedish adults. The story of its founding and first year or so of operation is recounted in an article in the April 2007 Gaming Law Review.

To help realize its goal of promoting responsible gaming, the Swedish internet poker game makes generous use of partial and full self-exclusion options. From Svenska Spel's English-language webpage comes this description:
To minimize the risks for gaming addiction each poker player at has to set individual limits per session, per day, per week, per month as well as maximum duration of the day, week or month. Furthermore the player may exclude himself.
That is, the imposition of limits is not voluntary: if you want to gamble at the Swedish poker site, you must specify a series of time and value betting limits. You can set them as high as you like, but you must set them, and you cannot raise the ceilings before the end of a waiting period. (Alteration rules are asymmetric: you can lower your gambling limits at any time.) The site itself enforces an overall limit on the size of a bet in a single poker hand, but it is huge by most people's standards, over $10,000.

The article in the Gaming Law Review also discusses another Vice Squad obsession, the possibility that Swedish laws providing legal gambling monopolies (besides Svenska Spel, there is another one for horse racing) might conflict with European Union requirements. For a while it looked as if the Swedish government was going to end the gambling monopolies, but the situation is currently in flux.

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