Publication date: 20 Sep 2023
From 2024, Sweden will intensify its fight against illegal operators. The local regulator Spelinspektionen will receive EUR 1 million for this purpose. The funding is planned to continue in the future, with EUR 1.34 million in 2025 and EUR 1.6 million in 2026. In the first instance, a closer working relationship with the Financial Supervisory Authority will be established as a reinforcement of the measures.
Read on to find out what is currently happening in the Swedish gambling market!
Betting and gambling can be legally promoted in Sweden from 1 January 2019. Despite the fact that the new era of Swedish gambling has only recently begun, check out the progress the Swedes have made in marketing casinos and betting shops!
How are casinos and betting shops regulated in Sweden?
All areas of gambling regulation in Sweden are overseen by Spelinspektionen (the Swedish Gambling Authority). This authority operates on the basis of several laws:
- Gambling Act (2018). The Act came into force on 1 January 2019. This date is considered the beginning of full regulation of gambling and betting in Sweden.
- Act on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Measures (2017).
- Act on the organization of certain automatic games (1982).
As clarified on the authority’s website, the aim of the authority is a healthy and safe gambling market where demand for gambling is met in a controlled manner and there is a social safety net.
What kind of gambling is allowed in Sweden?
In order to operate in the gambling and betting market in Sweden, it is necessary to obtain a license. All site operators wishing to attract a Swedish audience to online gambling, are required to obtain this document. Initially, the license is issued for 5 years.
The cost of obtaining a license:
- SEK 400,000 (about 2 million RUB/36,000 USD) for commercial online gambling;
- SEK 400,000 for online betting;
- SEK 700,000 (approx. 3.5 million RUB/63,000 USD) for a joint license for betting and online gambling in Sweden;
- SEK 300,000 for license renewal;
- SEK 150,000 for license change.
- SEK 800 is also charged by the Swedish Gambling Authority for registration applications.
Active gaming licenses can be checked on the regulator’s website. A search is made by company name, website address or type of license. A drop-down list shows all operators that have a license. At the beginning of 2022, we can see 66 licensed casino and betting operators, including well-known brands such as 888, BetFair, Bet365, BetWay, Bwin, FrankCasino, LeoVegas, Pinnacle, RizkCasino, Unibet, Vbet.
- The winners of the Bookmaker Awards were announced in July 2022. The best bookmaker in Sweden (as well as in the categories with the best football and hockey odds, betting, service and welcome offer) was won by Bet365.
Furthermore, Spelinspektionen identifies those operators that work in the Swedish market without authorization. These sites are subject to blocking. A list of blocked companies, as well as the cancelled decisions, can be found under Companies involved in illegal gambling activities.
Separately, it should be noted that before blocking, the regulator is obliged to analyze how the marketing and payment acceptance on the website is organized. The reason for this is that the Swedish government in July 2022 banned the blocking of websites that passively accept Swedish customers without a local license.
The Swedish gambling market regulation process is ongoing. In 2021, a bill appeared called Enhanced Gambling Regulation, which proposes to introduce licensing requirements for gaming software equipment. Although the bill has not yet been finalised, the Swedish regulator will launch the application process for B2B vendor licenses from 1 March 2023.
The application fee will be SEK 120,000. About 70 providers are expected to apply for gaming licenses in Sweden.
How much money does the gambling market make in Sweden?
Gambling operators in Sweden have to pay 18% tax* on their net profits.
*Swedish players (individuals) pay no tax on winnings!
New (September 2023)! The National Gambling Authority has summarized the results for the second quarter of 2023. During this period, the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) of Sweden’s licensed operators totaled SEK 6.70 billion (about USD 603.9 million).
According to the regulator, the net turnover (players’ bets minus winnings) in Sweden’s regulated market in Q1 2022 was SEK 6,539 million. Most of it – 4,202 million kronor – is accounted for by operators with a license Commercial Internet Gambling (online casinos and betting). Overall, the market in this sector shows stable but small growth (about 5%): casinos and bookmakers earn about the same amount (about SEK 4,000 million) in all quarters of 2021.
Consequently, the annual revenue of the state from gambling is about SEK 6 billion (about RUB 30 billion or USD 540 thousand).
Advertising rules for casinos and bookmakers in Sweden
In Sweden, all types of gambling and betting are allowed, as well as their advertising. According to the law on marketing, only those games and lotteries that are licensed in Sweden may be advertised. The promotion of betting and gambling is supervised by Hallå konsumer (a nationwide information service coordinated by the Swedish Consumer Agency that deals with issues related to the marketing of games).
- The main rule for gambling advertising in Sweden is “moderation” (read more about what “lag” means and how it relates to gambling advertising in Sweden).
- The main restriction: the promotion cannot be directed specifically at persons under 18 or directly at a player who has refused to gamble (put himself or herself on the exclusion list or refused to be sent gambling advertisements).
Before advertising a gambling site in Sweden, you must ensure that it complies with government requirements.
The requirement for a sports betting or casino site operating under a Swedish license:
- a national .se top-level domain is used;
- deposits, withdrawals and winnings are made in Swedish currency;
- all information is presented in Swedish;
- there is Swedish customer service/frequently asked questions
- the logo of the regulator Spelinspektionen is prominently displayed, as well as the self-exclusion service Spelpaus.se.
It is crucial to understand that Sweden is extremely careful about player protection. The Spelpaus.se website with a self-exclusion list is in place to protect players. According to official data, the most common age for self-exclusion is 32 (for both women and men). 80% of all users who consider themselves gambling addicts are between 19 and 47 years old. The oldest people who have decided to ban themselves from gambling are over 90 years old.
There is also a one deposit bonus rule to protect Swedish players. In other words, one player can get the welcome bonus only once from one operator. This rule applies even if the gambling operator’s license covers several brands and the player has several accounts. Currently, the bonus amount is not legally limited.
- New! According to the results of 2022, gambling advertising in traditional media (newspapers, TV, outdoor advertising) has decreased in Sweden. While in 2021, SEK 4 billion was allocated for this purpose, in 2022 – SEK 3.4 billion, i.e. 15% less. Online casino advertising (30%) and sports betting (28%) still lead the way.
Another innovation came in September 2022. The Swedish gambling regulator has banned autoplay mode in online slots. Such a restriction is a frequent practice in force in the UK or the Canadian province of Ontario, for example.
How to attract players from Sweden to casino and betting sites
The Kingdom of Sweden is located in Northern Europe, it is one of the Scandinavian countries. Its population is about 10 million people. As a multinational state, it is culturally and religiously diverse.
Official language is Swedish (standard – rikssvenska), there are about 100 different dialects. The population also speaks minority languages (Finnish, Sami, Meänkieli/Tornedalsfinska), and most can read and understand English.
The official currency is the Swedish krona (SEK).
The country’s Human Development Index (an indicator of living standards, literacy, education and longevity) is very high. Sweden is ranked 7th in the world with a score of 0.945.
According to the regulator, a total of SEK 26 billion was spent on legal gambling in Sweden in 2021. That is SEK 3,150 for every adult in the country. And that’s 5% more than in 2020.
Who plays online gambling in Sweden: a portrait of a typical visitor to online gambling sites
!!!In July 2023, the Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) published another survey on Swedes’ online gambling habits.
Among other things, the survey shows that:
- 14% played online at least once a week.
- 31% play online at least once a quarter.
- The most common forms of online gambling are lotteries and number games.
- Betting on sports has declined in recent years, down 22% this year.
- 11% are aware of Spelpaus.se and have used it, a slight increase from the previous survey. A total of 86% say they are familiar with Spelpaus.se.
- 6% have deliberately played on a site without a Swedish gaming license in the last three months, and 4% have unintentionally played on a site without a Swedish gaming license.
Here’s the earlier data, you can compare….
In May 2021 (this is the latest data published only in September 2022) the Gambling Inspectorate in cooperation conducted a survey about Swedes’ attitudes and habits towards online gambling. It found out that:
- 32% of Swedes play online at least once a quarter.
- 25% play every month or more frequently.
- 16% play every week.
- At the same time, 60% have played lotteries or number games.
- Horse racing and other sports betting share second place (36% each).
- One in five (20%) have played casinos such as slot machines,
- 11% play bingo;
- 7% choose poker;
- half of the players (50%) choose only one type of online game.
Men (42%) are twice as likely to gamble online as women.
Those with a low monthly income (SEK 18 thousand/1500 US dollars/91 thousand Russian roubles or less) are less likely to gamble online than those with a higher monthly income.
Another report by the regulator (November 2021 survey) says that the majority (65%) play because it is fun and entertaining. Many also play because of the opportunity to win (42%).
Why do Swedes choose unlicensed casino and betting sites?
As a reminder, as of 1 January 2019, a gaming license is required in order for a gaming company to be allowed to operate on the Swedish market. However, there is nothing illegal for users themselves to play or bet on a site that does not have a Swedish gambling license.
When surveyed by Spelinspektionen, the vast majority of players (93%) said that “I have never played on sites without a Swedish licence”. Among those (the remaining 7% of those surveyed) who have played on unlicensed sites, young people aged 18 to 29 are the most numerous (14%). 47% searched for unlicensed gambling sites on the Internet. 31% received information (links) from their friends, and an equal number saw advertisements.
The most important reason for playing on sites without a Swedish gaming license (25%) is that they offer different odds and winning opportunities. Other players choose such gambling sites because of bonus offers (21%). Another 20% play on illegal sites due to being blocked on Spelpaus.se (a self-exclusion system), or to avoid a deposit limit of SEK 5000 per week*.
And the most important reason for choosing gambling sites with a Swedish license is security and control (54%).
*The limit of SEK 5000 was introduced as a supportive measure during the COVID-19 pandemic and was in effect from July 2020 to November 2021. Likewise, at that time, the amount of bonus in online casinos was limited to an amount of SEK 100.
Which payment methods do Swedish players choose?
The Government of Sweden is planning to introduce a complete ban on the use of credit cards to pay for gambling. Currently there is a partial ban, but credit cards are allowed to be used to pay for lotteries and gambling transactions. Now, following the publication of the report “On Risky Lending and Overindebtedness in the Nordic Market” in July 2023, the ban applies to all types of gambling and will prohibit all indirect payments.
The payment system Zimpler has also taken restrictive measures: all partnerships with operators that do not obtain a license from Spelinspektionen will be terminated. Earlier it was reported that Zimpler had developed a special solution for operators who do not have a license but want to operate in the Swedish market. The regulator then issued a warning and threatened a fine of SEK 25 million (about $2.3 million).
Half of those who play on the sites (50%) pay by card.
One in three (35%) have e-wallets, and almost as many (33%) use a direct transfer payment service provider.
- 82% of players use the Trustly payment system;
- 33% make deposits and withdraw their winnings via Zimpler AB;
- The most commonly used e-wallet is Neteller (43%);
- One in five (20%) use Skrill Limited.
- Additionally, ecoPayz, Klarna, TrustPay, MuchBetter, QIWI Wallet Europe Ltd, Paysafe, Masterpass are on the list of popular payment methods among Swedes on casino and betting sites.
Most (82%) use only one payment method, but some (17%) use two or three payment methods.
Sources of traffic for casinos and bookmakers in Sweden online
Similarweb.com presented data on the most visited websites by Swedish residents for August 2022.
- Among the search engines, google.com, duckduckgo.com and yandex.ru are in the lead. Similarly, bing.com and music.youtube.com are also in the top five.
- Swedes actively use social networks, with Facebook.com, instagram.com and twitter.com at the top of the list. Among the most visited are reddit.com and flashback.org.
(Facebook and Instagram are recognized as extremist and banned in Russia).
- Attendance at gambling sites in Sweden is as follows: atg.se, svenskaspel.se, and bet365.com, leovegas.com and unibet.se. Popular online casinos in Sweden include videoslots.com, dumpen.se, zimpler.net and expekt.se. Online sports betting in Sweden involves flashscore.se, oddsportal.com and travronden.se. Swedes play poker at gamblingcabin.se, highstakesdb.com, runitonce.com, relaxg.com and pokerstars.se.
Creatives for Sweden: cultural specificities
Sweden is a traditional Scandinavian country with its own unique culture and behaviour. Some of these are essential to understand how this target audience thinks and how you can get their attention.
- The Swedish way of life is lagom. It’s the whole country’s way of thinking! Everything should be in moderation: not much, not little, without excess, but with pleasure. As a consequence, Swedes are not spontaneous at all. They plan everything in advance: holidays, parties, vet and dentist visits, spending and entertainment. The lagom follows the Swedes’ inherent daily routine: they go to bed early as well as wake up early. Keep this in mind when launching your advertising campaign!
- Swedish people love all kinds of rules. If there is a rule, you have to follow it. The same goes for gambling and betting: law-abiding Swedes are less likely to gamble on unlicensed sites.
- In Sweden, they are very fond of recreation. Daily – repeated “fika” (that’s “coffee” in reverse, with baked goods and casual conversation) during the working day. From late June to mid-August the whole country goes on holiday; not only public institutions but even private businesses suspend their activities. Needless to say, northern Sweden loves its sunshine! A very pleasant and memorable image to motivate future players.
- Despite their low-key lifestyle, the Swedes love to laugh. However, they have a very special sense of humour. Firstly, self-irony is encouraged. The Swedes welcome jokes about the local mentality: shyness and fear of trespassing, public transport and laundry room behaviour. There is absolutely no censorship in the country, therefore politicians, leaders of any level, religious and scientific leaders, even the King are willingly laughed at (while, for example, in Thailand it is strictly forbidden!). Swedes are also happy to hear jokes about their Norwegian neighbours which are not cruel. Especially for the younger ones, toilet humour is a big hit with Swedes of all ages. The best way to get a Swede’s attention is to show him a singing butt (or even more, you can make up your own mind as you go along).
- But it is all about equality and political correctness: you can’t make jokes about women, black people or any other social group. All advertising is scrutinised for stereotypes in the behaviour of women and men as well as protecting the interests of ethnic and sexual minorities. If violated, such advertising will be perceived extremely negatively and cause much condemnation. Use images of half-dressed women or “real men” with caution; this audience might not understand!
- Another peculiarity of Swedes is that you can’t stand out from the crowd. But you can’t be worse than the rest either! That’s why ads like “Your neighbours have already won…!”, “More than 100,000 Swedes have already tried and gotten rich on…” and so on.
What sports are popular in Sweden?
Curiously, in Swedish there are two terms for sporting events. Directly sport is specifically competition, but not necessarily involving physical activity (chess or eSports, for example). Idrott is a human activity with a non-competitive nature (dancing, swimming, cycling). There are both sports and idrott at the same time: skiing, martial arts, any team games.
For Swedes, sport is part of everyday life, more than 50% are involved in sport every day, with 20% being members of sports clubs.
- The biggest audience is attracted by broadcasts of football and hockey (with a puck, with a ball), handball matches, golf tournaments and car racing. Other traditional sports are also popular: skiing, tennis, gymnastics, swimming and horse racing. Some of the rarer sports that Swedes watch include petanque (throwing metal balls), a variety of dances and cycling. The local sports competitions brännboll (Swedish ball game) and kubb (Swedish gorodki) are always well attended.
- The brännboll world championship, called Brännbollscupen, is an annual event in Umeå, Sweden. There is also an annual Swedish Football Championships and games in the Swedish Hockey League. If you want to know about all the sports events related to Sweden, use the calendar on 3SNET.
- Sports celebrities from Sweden are particularly admired and thrilled. If you want to attract the attention of users, use these faces! The top 20 popular Swedish athletes include: Björn Borg, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg (tennis), Anja Pärson, Ingemar Stenmark, Pernilla Wiberg (alpine skiing), Carolina Kluft (athletics), Jan-Ove Waldner (table tennis), Peter Forsberg, Niklas Lidström (hockey), Annika Sörenstam (golf), Patrik Sjöberg, Kajsa Bergqvist, (high jump), Anette Norberg (curling), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (football), Magnus Wislander (handball), Charlotte Kalla (skiing), Sarah Sjöström (swimming), Agneta Andersson (canoeing).
- In recent decades, eSports have become very popular in Sweden. According to the Computer Sports Federation, the Swedes lead the industry on a par with China, the USA, Germany and the UK.
- The Olympics are very popular among the Swedes and they always keep a close eye on the success of their national team.
Prospects for the development of the Swedish gaming market
Sweden has long been known for its business environment, which is as lenient as any other country in Europe. The gambling market is no exception. Thanks to a thoughtful system of openness and licensing, it has become one of the most reasonable and growing. Everything is there for the successful promotion of betting and gambling online: well thought-out legislation, payment, prepared and advanced audience, comfortable conditions for advertising. Choose the best offers from casinos and bookmakers in Sweden, send traffic and enjoy the profits!