Sweden’s gambling participation rate held steady in 2018 after four straight years of annual declines, while the UK’s Bet365 claimed the international online operator crown.
On Friday, Sweden’s Spelinspektionen regulatory body (formerly Lotteriinspektionen) released its latest annual survey of the nation’s gambling habits, which found 66% of Swedes had gambled for money at least once over the past 12 months. (View the complete survey results here, in Swedish.)
That figure is on par with the 2017 survey but represents something of a break from the prevailing trend. The 2013 survey showed a 76% participation rate, and that number had trended down a point or two in every survey through 2017.
The number of Swedes who admitted gambling in the past week was up three points to 34%, while those who claim not to gamble at all was up two points to 16%. That latter figure is higher than in any of the previous four surveys.
One-third of Swedes who hadn’t gambled in the past year said they avoided the game because they never won any money. A lack of ‘faith’ in the gambling market was cited by 22%, while boredom with the current offering was cited by 17%. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted prior to this year’s launch of a liberalized online market.
Lotteries, bingo and horseracing were the only gambling verticals in which land-based participation exceeded the online option. Some 57% of respondents reported engaging in land-based lottery activity, compared to just 17% online. One-fifth of respondents placed a land-based racing bet vs. 16% online, while bingo’s land-based participation (9%) was triple the online rate.
Sports bettors overwhelmingly prefer to bet online (16%) than via retail shops (5%). The online preference was far less pronounced for poker and casino products, with online holding only single-point advantages over land-based options.
The number of Swedes who gamble in retail outlets over the past year fell two points to 46%, well down from 2015’s 57%. Interestingly, mobile phone gambling was down five points to 25%, while desktop gambling fell two points to 19% and tablets slipped four points to 9%. But smart TV gambling rose one point to 5% while the ill-defined ‘other ways’ category shot up 10 points to 14%.
Three-fifths of online gamblers said they primarily gambled via the state-owned Svenska Spel (former) monopoly – eight points higher than 2017’s result – while 15% named the race betting monopoly ATG, essentially unchanged from the previous year.
Bet365 led the international operator list with a 3% share, one point ahead of the Kindred Group’s Unibet brand (which led this category in 2017). The Stars Group’s PokerStars brand tied with Betsson at 1%, with Cherry, LeoVegas, Mr Green and Kindred’s female-focused Maria brand coming in slightly behind the leaders.
Only 3% of Swedes copped to gambling more than they should in the past year, a figure that has remained constant in each of the past five years. Similarly, while 7% reported knowing someone who gambled too much, that figure hasn’t budged in three years.
More than half (52%) admitted not knowing that it was possible to self-exclude from gambling sites, while only 3% said they’d actually availed themselves of self-exclusion. This week, Spelinspektionen announced that 10k Swedes had signed up for the new Spelpaus program, which allows individuals to self-exclude and block marketing come-ons from Swedish-licensed sites.