Sweden’s Gaming Industry Reports Small Increase In Revenue

Sweden’s online gaming industry reported only a small revenue increase in the third quarter, while the local regulator has reprimanded yet another operator for breaching bonus offer laws.

Figures published by the Spelinspektionen regulatory body on Friday show that in the three months ending September 30, Sweden’s total gambling industry produced revenue of just over SEK6b (US$700.5m), a gain of just 1.3 percent from the same period last year and 2 percent higher than Q2 2020.

Swedish licenced online operators posted sales growing to SEK3.7b by 5.8 percent year-on-year, exceeding the previous market-best of Q1 2020 by a mere SEK33m. The state-run Svenska Spel’s lottery and slot machine operations had an even better quarter, rising 7.7 percent to just under SEK1.5b, this year’s best showing for the segment.

Spelinspektionen said there were no clear figures on how much revenue was generated in Q3 by internationally licenced online gambling operators without local permission serving Swedish customers. However the recent pandemic caps on online casino deposits and incentives have diverted a lot of traffic to these foreign interlopers, Swedish-licensed operators claim.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Finance of Sweden suggested extending these limits until 30 June 2021. The government is taking comments on this proposal until 23 November, but the online gambling trade group Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has already expressed its opposition due to the inability of the government’s own data to provide evidence for the original restrictions, let alone their extension.

Spelinspektionen offered its support for the proposed extension on Friday, saying it was a “reasonable” measure because it can be assumed that the circumstances that led to the imposition of limits this summer “can be assumed to remain for a longer period of time.”

Spelinspektionen also dragged another online licensee to the regulatory woodshed on Friday for “serious” violations of the incentive offer and consumer protection laws of Sweden. A formal notice and a financial penalty of SEK5m ($580k) was given to XC Gaming, which runs the Frank & Fred and Klirr brands.

On several occasions, Spelinspektionen said XC offered a player bonus, breaking the rules restricting such freebies to a single sign-up bonus. The company attempted to explain its generosity by saying that the ‘gifts’ offered to this player were not connected to game play, nor were not bought by the regulator.

Spelinspektionen were obviously not inclined to be generous because XC gave the bonuses to a player who had already been flagged as someone whose gambling veered into troubled territory, and therefore the regulator thought that XC had a duty of care to ensure that the player was not allowed to proceed down this dark road.

Spelinspektionen noted that the operation in question took place in 2019, before XC was purchased from its previous owners, Cherry AB, by gaming platform provider The Mill Adventure Ltd this spring.