In a hugely significant move that presages a major expansion into Central...
As with its singular policy of trying to beat Coronavirus through so-called herd immunity, it seems the Swedish government has also misdiagnosed the best way to treat problem gambling.
That’s one negative interpretation of a record financial Q3 for the Scandinavian nation’s online and iGaming verticals.
Online casino and sports betting revenue was up just over two per cent, compared to the same quarter last year, and up almost six per cent, year-on-year, to SEK3.69bn (£320m/US$427m/€360m).
In sharp contrast to its Nordic neighbours, Denmark, Norway and Finland, and the rest of Europe; Sweden chose a relatively soft lock-down to combat Covid-19.
But it also instituted hard controls on online casino games in an attempt to head-off an expected rise in iGaming during the pandemic. Under temporary legislation passed July 2, maximum deposits were capped at SEK5,000 (£435/US$579/€489).
Yet punters have simply dodged the limit by opening up more accounts, betting less but with more operators, and thus going under the radar.
Overall, gambling revenue in Sweden for Q3 was up two per cent compared to Q2 and up 1.3 per cent, year-on-year, to SEK6.04bn (£525m/US$700m/€590m).
Sweden’s Operator Association, the Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), and the International Betting Integrity Association have been unequivocal in their opposition to the control cap.
The Swedish Gaming Authority, or Spelinspektionen, was not too keen on the idea either.
They warned that illegal or unlicensed gambling could increase in a bid to escape the tougher government controls.
And it said it would be “impossible to enforce” the limits across all operators.
Sweden’s Svenska Spel state lottery and bricks-and-mortar gaming monopoly, meanwhile, has also declared a big increase in Q3 revenue of SEK1.47bn (£128m/US$170m/€148m), up 14 per cent from last quarter and a 7.7 per rise, year-on-year.
Remarkably, the figures exceeded the mark even though many land venues remained closed throughout the quarter.
Not-for-profit lotto revenue fell 17.5 per cent from its record high of SEK946m (£82.3m/US$109.6m/€92.5m) in Q2. But it was still up almost six per cent year-on-year.
Bingo and restaurant casinos, which were operating, recovered well from a weak second quarter. Bingo revenue grew 24 per cent, quarter-on-quarter, to SEK47m (£4.1m/US$5.44m/€4.6m) and restaurant casino revenue was up 32 per cent to SEK45m (£3.91m/US$5.21m/€4.4m).
The Swedish Gaming Authority estimates the country’s unregulated gambling market could be generating around SEK680m (£59m/US$79m/€66.5m) a year.