“First time in a long time” that all Swedish gaming operators report growth

swedish-gambling-growthAll Swedisn-licensed gambling operators reported growth in the first quarter of 2016, “the first time in a long time” that feat has been accomplished.

According to new stats released by Swedish gaming agency Lotteriinspektionen, the overall gambling market’s turnover rose 5% to SEK 5.4b (US $651m) in the three months ending March 31. State-licensed operators reported turnover up 6% to SEK 4.2b, while those rogue international operators severing Swedish punters without a Swedish license improved 5% to SEK 1.1b.

Lotteriinspektionen noted that the country’s regulated market had been on a largely uninterrupted downturn over the past few years until showing signs of life late in 2015. The agency notes with some bitterness that the upturn in locally licensed operators’ fortunes has not been accompanied by a corresponding downturn in international operators, but c’est la guerre.

The state-owned (but not for much longer) betting monopoly Svenska Spel reported total turnover up 4% to SEK 2.3b, with land-based operations up 4% to SEK 1.8b while online operations reported much healthier growth, rising 16% to SEK 488m.

Horseracing monopoly operator ATG saw its overall turnover rise 6% to SEK 955m. Mimicking the overall trend, its online operations were up 15% to SEK 467m, enough to eclipse land-based turnover, which fell 1% to SEK 469m.

The Postcode Lottery reported turnover up 5% to SEK 606m, no thanks to its online operations, which fell 56% to just SEK 9m, while land-based business rose 8% to SEK 596m. The rest of the country’s lottery operations were also in positive territory, including People Games (SEK 155m, +17%), IOGT-NTO (SEK 74m, +9%), SAB/SSU (SEK 57m, +7%) and ‘other’ national lotteries (SEK 46m, +20%).

Sweden’s ongoing plans to privatize Svenska Spel ahead of the country’s proposal to finally open up its online market to international firms reportedly prompted the resignation of Svenska Spel chairwoman Anitra Steen last month.

Swedish financial media outlet Dagens Industri quoted Steen saying Svenska Spel had “an efficient gaming policy which has been of great importance for social causes” and that “private profit interests” should not be allowed to drive gambling sales.

However, Svenska Spel itself has come under sustained criticism in recent years over its dramatic increase in marketing, which the European Commission concluded were more intended to boost revenue rather than to ensure Swedish gamblers were being protected from those diabolical international operators.