Unlicensed operators thriving in Swedish market
Unlicensed operators are continuing to take business from firms licensed in Sweden, according to the last quarterly figures that will be published by the country’s gambling regulator before the introduction of new iGaming regulations in January 2019.
Gross gaming revenue in the Swedish market increased by 1.2% to SEK16.8bn (£1.4bn/€1.6bn/$1.8bn) for the first three quarters of 2018, but regulator Lotteriinspektionen noted a decline in the amount generated by licensed operators.
Companies that hold licences in the county generated SEK12.2bn in Q3, down 2.4% year-on-year, whereas unlicensed firms saw their collective revenue climb 12.4% to SEK4.5bn.
Svenska Spel remains Sweden's largest gaming operator with SEK6.4bn in revenue, though this was down 1.6% on the previous year due in part to a 9% drop in land-based gaming revenue. In contrast, online gaming revenue jumped 23% year-on-year.
The story was very much the same for at racing operator ATG, where revenue slipped 0.4% to SEK3.1bn, due to a 10% drop in land-based gaming revenue, and despite a 6.7% increase in online revenue.
The nine-month results reflect a long-running trend in Sweden, which has seen iGaming grow in popularity and unlicensed operators increase their market share.
For the nine months to the end of September, licensed operators held 73% of the total market share, compared to 27% of companies without permits.
Online gambling revenue was up 12.9% year-on-year over the three quarters, but land-based gaming revenue has fallen by 8.4% over the same period.
According to figures from industry analyst Regulus Partners, Sweden’s listed companies have seen revenue increase 23% on a constnat currency basis, – but only 12% in Euro terms – with Cherry and MRG performing strongly, Svenska Spel trading in-line with expectations and Betsson showing signs of recovery following a period of decline. It noted that Gaming Innovation Group appeared to have seen growth slow, with Kindred Group and LeoVegas losing market share.
Sweden’s is to introduce new gambling regulations from January 1st, 2019, which will see online gaming officially legalised and subject to an 18% gross gaming revenue tax. The Lotteriinspektionen expects up to 70 operators to apply for a licence, with more than 22 filing their applications when the regulator started accepting submissions on August 1st.
The regulator is expected to begin announcing successful applicants later this month, but has also warned that some operators may be forced to wait as a result of errors in their application paperwork.
As part of preparations for the market re-regulation, the Lotteriinspektionen last month appointed Katarina Abrahamsson as its first match-fixing coordinator and also set out new responsible gambling requirements for licensees.