Unregulated Operations Drive Growth in Sweden’s Gambling Sector in 2017

Sweden’s regulated market was worth SEK17.07 billion (approximately $2.09 billion) in 2017, latest figures released by the Swedish Gambling Authority, Lotteriinspektionen, show. Regulated gambling operations recorded a 1% decrease from a year earlier.

Svenska Spel, the state-run gambling operator tasked with the operation of most regulated gaming and betting services in the country, generated revenue of SEK8.98 billion last year, about the same amount as it generated in 2016. It accounted for 40% of the country’s gambling market (both regulated and unregulated).

Revenue from Svenska Spel’s land-based operations dropped 5% year-on-year to SEK6.715 billion. While accounting for a quarter of Svenska Spel’s 2017 revenue, online services recorded a double-digit (18%) revenue growth to SEK2.265 billion.

Combined revenue from Sweden’s regulated and unregulated markets amounted to SEK22.604 billion (approximately $2.77 billion), reflecting an increase of 3% from 2016. The country’s unregulated market was actually the main driver of growth last year. According to Lotteriinspektionen, unregulated operations generated revenue of SEK5.534 billion (approximately $678.5 million) last year, up 13% year-on-year.

Here it is important to note that the Scandinavian nation’s unregulated market is represented by foreign online gaming and betting operators that hold licenses from other EU and non-EU jurisdictions. At present, Sweden’s gambling law does not allow for such foreign operators to obtain licenses from the country’s Gambling Authority and regulated operations are only provided by several state-owned entities.

The growth of Sweden’s unregulated market could be attributed to several factors. In the first place, the tech-savvy population of the country has been looking for diversity that local operators may have failed to provide. And in the second place, foreign gambling companies have increased their brand exposure across Swedish media significantly over the past several years.

According to a recent report by local measurement firm Kantar Sifo, three gambling companies were among the country’s top 20 advertisers in 2017. Aside from the state-run Svenska Spel, Kindred Group (previously Unibet Group) and LeoVegas were found to have invested the most in advertising their products and services to Swedish consumers. What is more, LeoVegas was the company to record the biggest rise in annual ad spending last year.

Market Re-Regulation

According to a recent report by Swedish media research firm Mediavision, one in eight Swedes gambled on foreign gambling websites on a monthly basis in 2017. The reported figure represented a 25% increase from 2016.

Information about the popularity of international gambling websites among Swedish players emerges as the country is preparing for the upcoming re-regulation of the local market. Sweden’s new gambling law is set to come into effect on January 1, 2019. It will open the Swedish market for foreign companies, which means that these will be able to apply for and be issued operational licenses from Lotteriinspektionen.

Earlier this week, the Swedish Gambling Authority announced that it has been preparing the necessary documentation to open a license application process for interested gambling operators on July 1, 2018. The regulatory body said that it plans to release more details about the application process in mid-March and during a meeting schedule for May.

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