The Swedish iGaming Market QuestionPublished September 14, 2015 by Lee R
The Swedish state of flux stands as a reminder that governments need to make markets attractive for expansion.
Scandinavia is a huge gaming market.
Where's the Expansion?
Encompassing three prominent and eager European gambling markets with high concentrations of fluidity, this seems an ideal market for expansion and highly attractive place to apply for licensing. Yet the market seems to be contracting in the region's largest market.
In 2014, Swedish online gambling revenues hit a sizable $2.4 billion, a figure that nonetheless represented a drop from the previous year's results.
The apparent decline has been linked to an untimely set of guidelines that the government issued to tackle gambling addiction. The “responsible gambling measures” introduced at the end of 2013 came off as rather restrictive, with the intentional of addressing the marketing of games “considered problematic from a gaming responsibility perspective,” according to Sweden's state-owned gambling provider Svenska Spel’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility Zenita Strandänger.
Impact of Restrictions
The impact of this restriction is beginning to be seen now, as net gaming revenues for Svenska Spel dropped 4.7% in Q1 2015 compared to 2014. However, online revenues still achieved 5.5% growth, with mobile growth area up a whopping 50% for the quarter.
Tighter regulations are only part of the issue. Svenska Spel also claims the lack of overall growth is due to increased competition from international online bookmakers. As for domestic competition, Sweden's Betsson saw revenues rise 23% to $355 million in 2014, with 25% of that from mobile betting. At the same time, the company absorbed a $2.3 million loss in poker revenues, attributed to “a continued decreased level of activity in poker networks.”
The attractiveness of the market to new competitors is no doubt tempered by the existence of a government-owned competitor in an otherwise free and open market.
This could certainly make smaller competitors think twice about investing in competition in that country or region.
Popular Online Casinos in Sweden
Meanwhile, what is clear is that online gambling continues to grow, a fact that major online casinos already popular in Sweden such as Mr. Green Casino, Cherry Casino and Guts Casino are enjoying. How quickly the market expands in Scandinavia may well be linked to the extent of influence that the state-owned gambling companies exert on their respective markets.