Growth of unregulated casino and betting in Sweden

When Sweden’s gambling laws were being enacted, their goal was to limit the frequency of gambling done by its residents and avoid the problems of problem gambling which are so common. In fact, gambling regulations in Sweden are among the most restrictive in Europe, all in an attempt to reduce the frequency of gambling. Instead, these laws have not had much of an impact to the popularity of gambling activities as recent studies show.

How big is the Swedish gambling market?

According to Swedish gambling legislation, only the governmental agency Svenska Spel is allowed to provide gambling activities. This strategy has worked for the most part, since a majority of Swedish gamblers do it through Svenska Spel. Based on the article by, the total amount spent in Sweden on Gambling in 2016 totalled SEK 22.2 billion, which was a slight increase from SEK 21.6 billion in 2015.

This is a huge amount of money to be spent on gambling in a year, but the Swedish government’s strategy seems to be effective. Of the total amount spent, the largest proportion was done through Svenska Spel, which handled almost 50% of all gambling activities. Other regulated companies within Sweden were also involved, and these include national lotteries and NGO games. In total, regulated entities within Sweden were responsible for the majority of gambling spend.

What about the unregulated segment?

However, offshore gambling companies still grew in popularity, especially when it came to online gambling. In 2012, these unregulated offshore companies managed to acquire SEK3.2 billion in revenue from Swedish gamblers. In 2016, the revenues reached SEK 5.1 billion, which is more than a 50% growth in just 5 years.

The growth seen in the unregulated segment of the gambling industry is troubling for the Swedish industry for both financial and moral reasons. Financially, the Swedes are sending money out of the country for gambling, which more than often is lost. That is an economic nightmare considering balance of trade and trade deficits. Furthermore, most of it is unreported, which makes monetary policing even more difficult.

On the moral side, the Swedish government tries to reduce problem gambling by using revenues earned from gambling to contribute to social good. Without this safety net, they are unable to help their residents avoid any such traps.

What can be done about it?

The Swedish government is expected to abolish the monopoly system that is currently in place by allowing private companies to acquire a license. In return, these companies would be charged 18% in taxes on their gross revenue, which is less than many other European countries. Many Swedes are also for the idea, with a 90% majority favoring the regulated gambling companies over the unregulated ones. This new law is expected to be implemented in 2019, but there are still no guarantees.

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