The State of Sweden’s Gambling Market: Online Gambling Restrictions Lifted

Europe has always been known to be fond of gambling and it’s no surprise that it has a few countries with some of the biggest online gambling markets today. Sweden is one of the EU countries with a healthy growing gambling market and here’s a look at the local industry.

Based on Q2 reports, the Swedish gambling market was able to gain 6.5 billion SEK in revenue or around 780 million USD which is 4.7 percent higher than Q1 revenue which was 6.2 billion SEK or about 744 million USD.

In the same report, the online casino sector accounts for 4.1 billion SEK. This means that the majority of Swedish gamblers are now placing their bets online. Meanwhile, the state lottery and slot machine operations are responsible for the 1.4 SEK billion of the overall revenue.

What seems to be less patronized now is land-based gaming. Well, Sweden only has one land casino which is Casino Cosmopol, and based on the said report, it didn’t have any revenue for the discussed quarter. The casino is still hugely impacted by the pandemic and had to be closed until early July.

Spelinspektionen, which is the country’s gaming regulator, reported that by the end of the second quarter, there were 100 companies with active gambling licenses and 70 of them are allowed to offer online casino games and sports betting.

Sweden Online Gambling Restrictions During 2020

The pandemic has been somewhat great for the online casino industry worldwide. Lockdowns have caused people to stay at home and find new activities to get into. Many found entertainment in online gambling and this was also the case in Sweden.

In the middle of 2020, Sweden has implemented temporary online gambling restrictions to protect real money players in the country. The regulations required players to set a limit on their playing time. A weekly deposit was also set for 5,000 SEK. The online bonuses that operators were allowed to offer also cannot exceed 100 SEK.

Before these restrictions were rolled out, Sweden’s Social Security Minister, Ardalan Shekarabi, spoke about why they saw the need for new rules to be implemented. He said, “We are seeing a trend right now with increased risk of unemployment, sick leave, and financial uncertainty, combined with a decline in wagers. That mix of circumstances creates major risks in the field of play.

“The government needs to act quickly to protect Swedish consumers. Nobody goes unaffected right now. Of course, this also applies to consumers in the Swedish gaming market.”

Sweden Lifted Restrictions in November

The restrictions were initially said to be effective until the end of 2020 but it was only recently when the government has officially ended it. This happened after the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) has called for the government to lift the restrictions already.

BOS Secretary-General Gustaf Hoffstedt spoke about the reason why they had to call for it and said, “The main argument from the Government for the restrictions was a concern that increased time spent in the home during the pandemic would lead to increased gambling problems. That did not happen.”

Eventually, it was announced that the restrictions will be lifted on November 14 but the government sought the help of Spelinspektionen to evaluate the measures that were in place and have a look at implementing new measures that could strengthen player protection.

Shekarabi spoke about this decision and said, “Turnover in the gaming market has increased and online gaming has probably benefited from changing consumption patterns since the reregulation. There is a risk that this has led to a long-term behavioral change with increased gambling. This is a development that should be followed up to see if there is a need for further measures.”

The acting secretary-general of BOS), Ann-Sofie Olsson, said that the operators faced inconsistencies because of the restrictions but they are happy to hear that the restrictions are already lifted. Olsson said, “We welcome this decision, but we cannot stress enough that a sustainable regulated gaming market needs long-term and consistent, not temporary regulations.

“BOS is therefore looking forward to the dialogue that will come from the assignment the government has given to the Swedish Gambling Inspection, where the temporary measures will be evaluated. With knowledge, facts, and cooperation we want to contribute to the recent comprehensive re-regulation of the Swedish gambling market, being successful and sustainable.”

Spelinspektionen is expected to submit a report and evaluation by mid-March of next year. Another deadline was set for the remainder of the report stipulated for October 31, 2023.

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