Gambling in Scandinavia: How does it differ?

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Gambling rules vary throughout Europe, and Scandinavia is home to a number of nation-specific laws and customs, which means that there’s a lot to take on board if you’re new to the region.

Here’s a quick rundown of the way that gambling is handled in the key Scandinavian countries, which should bring you up to speed.


Gambling activities in Norway are generally controlled by the government, with most private companies not eligible to operate land-based services of their own.

The state-owned organization Norsk Tipping takes charge of a variety of bookmaking services, including everything from sports betting to scratch cards. Horse racing is a hit with Norwegians and betting on it is managed by Norsk Riskoto.

While it’s not strictly legal for citizens of Norway to gamble online, the law prohibiting it which touched down in 2008 is generally not enforced by the authorities. This gives locals the opportunity to sign up to sites operated in other parts of Europe without much likelihood of being hit by any serious ramifications.


Following in the footsteps of Norway, Sweden has state-controlled gambling of almost every type on offer for people aged 18 or older. This includes land-based casinos in Stockholm and three other cities, as well as a number of lotteries, bingo halls, slot machines and other services managed by government offshoot Svenska Spel.

There are a variety of options for web-powered gambling, with the likes of Casumo providing a high-quality online casino in Sweden to domestic players. So long as the state gives an operator a license, they can offer a multitude of services without any legal hang-ups.


Attitudes towards gambling in Denmark have become more liberal in the past decade, with the government monopoly on this activity effectively ending in 2012. Licensing for third party operators now manages to satisfy the needs of players, while also helping to drum up tax revenue at the same time.

A government firm has exclusive hold over betting on sports and games of chance, while skill-based games are legally allowed to be hosted online by outside organizations, so long as they get approval via the correct paperwork.

For players looking for land-based action, there are six major casinos in Denmark, including Casino Copenhagen in the capital. It may not be as grand as its equivalents in places like Las Vegas, but it still has an allure thanks to its location and atmosphere.


Although technically excluded from Scandinavia under some definitions, this Nordic nation is often grouped with its neighbors for the purposes of keeping things simple. And interestingly enough it’s actually one of the leading countries for spending on gambling on a global scale.

A trio of government-run bodies are responsible for monitoring and providing betting services in Finland, and online gambling with overseas operators is not against the law but is something that the authorities try not to encourage.

Poker is an especially big game amongst Finnish people, with more players taking up the sport in the age of online poker platforms. Stars like Patrik Antonius and Sami Kelopuro have emerged from this burgeoning scene.


Like Finland, grouping Iceland with the core Scandinavian countries is often debated, so it is worth taking a look at how gambling is handled in the country just to make sure that all of the bases are covered.

Laws prevent most forms of gambling from being enjoyed openly in Iceland; there are no casinos, and only slot machines are in place to represent land-based options for play. For online opportunities, the state-run lottery is the sole legitimate option. This doesn’t stop people from registering with overseas sites, even if doing so isn’t technically legal.

As you can see there are plenty of differences between the gambling experiences that are available across Scandinavia, although in most cases the government is in control of such services, to a lesser or greater extent.


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