Competitive Gaming is Gambling, Rules Swedish Apex Court

Two stunning decisions by Swedish courts within a span of a week, the first one ruling that all computing devices (PCs, notebooks, and smartphones) are "television receivers," chargeable by Swedish television licensing fees, and the second, this one by the country's top court, deeming all competitive gaming events as "gambling."

Competitive gaming held in social events, such as LAN parties, would now involve the organizer or host having to hold a gambling permit issued by the Swedish "Gaming Authority," a statutory body that regulates gambling in Sweden, with an agenda of "preventing the Swedish youth from taking to gambling." Organizers or hosts must also submit to sweeping audits by the Authority.

The Swedish High Court (the country's apex court) ruled that "the business of programmed computers for gaming, such as connected in the so-called LAN environment or the Internet and addressed to the public, are considered to be licensable activities," and that the number of participating systems to determine the license. Organizers should hold a two-year gambling permit to hold such events.

The biggest loser of this ruling may not necessarily be groups of friends holding neighborhood LAN parties, and most definitely not cyber-cafes, but Dreamhack, one of the world's largest competitive gaming events, held twice a year, in Stockholm. Twice each year, Dreamhack sees thousands of professional gamers from Europe and all over the world, meet up for individual and clan gaming, with varying prizes for each event, and an avalanche of sponsorship by companies tied to the gaming industry.

In principle, competitive gaming is more akin to sports than gambling. Gamers drop in participation fees for set number of events, and slug it out for the top-spot. There is, however, scope for clans to indulge in unregulated gambling, by tossing in significant wagers; and for people to bet on clans or individual gamers, as they rise up in their events.

To the gamer on the street, Dreamhack could get just a little more expensive.