Malta-based lottery game developer Yggdrasil Gaming has inked a deal to expand the offering of Klubblo, the online lottery platform of Sweden’s Sports Alliance. The deal is a partnership between Yggdrasil and Svenska Klubbspel, a joint venture of media outlet Metro and casino operator Cherry AB, and marks Yggdrasil’s initial foray into the Swedish regulated gaming market. Klubblo’s gaming options are available to the 20k sports clubs that count themselves members of the Swedish Sports Confederation.
Yggdrasil’s entry isn’t likely to provide enough juice to boost Sweden’s regulated gaming market, which shrank 3% in the first six months of 2014. Figures released by the state’s gaming authority Lotterinspektionen showed total turnover to June 30 of SEK 19.3b (US $2.76b) while gaming revenue fell 11% to SEK 7.8b ($1.1b). The decline is all the more depressing given the time period included the first half of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Unless several thousand Asian gambling whales decide to emigrate to Sweden in the next few months, the country is looking at its fourth straight year of gaming shrinkage.
Earlier this year, the Lotterinspektionen had announced plans to institute an online gambling licensing strategy similar to that in Denmark, which also shifted from a monopoly situation to a more liberalized regime (albeit still dominated by Danske Spil). Sweden’s path to regulation has been delayed by European Commission infringement proceedings over the country’s protectionist stance toward betting monopoly Svenska Spel.
Lotterinspektionen director general Håkan Hallstedt recently copped to the fact that the “uncomfortable” EC proceedings had complicated the state’s push for a more liberalized market. Swedes go to the polls next month, and the results could also affect the pace of legislation. If allowed to proceed unfettered, Hallstedt believes enacting regulatory reform would take up to three years. But unless consensus can be reached on how to open up the market to competition across all verticals, stricter bans on some forms of gaming could be imposed on Swedish-facing operators. C’mon in, the water’s freezing…