A slow but steady decline in Swedish gambling participation


sweden-gambling-participation-declineThere’s been a slow but steady decline in the number of Swedes who admit to gambling in the past year, according to the latest survey by the country’s gambling regulator.

On Wednesday, the Lotteriinspektionen gaming regulatory body released its annual snapshot of the average Swedish gambler, which showed that 66% of the 1,044 adults surveyed had engaged in at least one form of gambling over the past 12 months. (The full survey results can be found here, in Swedish.)

The figure is down only two points from the 2016 survey, but this number has been trending downward in each of the past four annual surveys and is now five points below the 2014 survey.

Of those who hadn’t gambled in the last 12 months, 34% claimed it was because they never won anything, a five-point rise in this justification from 2016. A further 22% said it was because they had no confidence in the current gaming market, also up five points year-on-year.

Only 3% of respondents copped to having gambled too much at some point in the past year, a number that has remained unchanged over the past four years. These problem gamblers skewed heavily male, with 4% of men saying they’d imbibed too much while just 1% of women answered ‘ja’ to this question.

Of those Swedes who partook in online gambling, the (for the moment) state-owned Svenska Spel was by far the preferred online operator, netting a majority 52% chunk of the responses. Sweden’s monopoly horserace betting operator ATG ranked second with 16%, the only other operator to achieve a double-digit score.

As for the rest of this chart, the Kindred Group’s Unibet ranked highest, albeit with a mere 3%. Local boys Betsson tied with UK betting giants Bet365 at 2%, while Kindred Group’s female-friendly Maria Casino, The Stars Group’s PokerStars, Mr Green, LeoVegas and Cherry AB were all knotted up at 1% apiece. (Of all these operators, only Bet365 and PokerStars don’t have Swedish roots.)

It’s worth noting that while Svenska Spel’s online turnover amounted to SEK 1b (US $119m) in the first half of 2017, combined turnover from ‘non-Swedish actors’ came to SEK 2.65b during this same period, so while Svenska Spel gets the most Swedish customers, they’re mostly lottery-playing minnows, while the other sites get the real Swedish fish.

Sweden is currently on the slow road to online gambling liberalization that will end Svenska Spel’s online monopoly and allow international operators the right to apply for local licenses. However, no action is expected to be taken until after the September 2018 national elections, meaning no actual market changes until early 2019 at the earliest.

In October, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court upheld a controversial ban on local media outlets running advertising for internationally licensed online gambling operators. The issue had been brewing for years, with Svenska Spel blaming the media for helping these international rapscallions undercut its online offering.

Lotteriinspektionen director general Camilla Rosenberg, who formally took over from the departed Håkan Hallstedt last month, said she expected all media companies to now follow the rules, while warning that the ruling would make prosecuting uncooperative media companies a far more simpler process.