The Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) Spelinspektionen published a report that revealed last year’s net sales figures generated by the country’s gaming operators. According to SGA’s data, land licensed gaming companies generated SEK 26bn ($2.7bn) in sales in 2021, up 5% from 2020’s numbers.
Covid-19 Restrictions, the Main Culprit for Sweden’s Slow Gaming Market Evolution
In spite of the official 5% increase in net sales recorded in 2021 compared to the 2020 figures of SEK24.8 billion ($2.55 billion), Sweden’s gambling sector was still visibly affected by the continuous Covid-19 restrictions throughout the year.
While the gradual ease of all public health measures was sensed across the country during 2021, the country’s gaming industry did not manage to record any important growth. Some figures also did not manage to go over the pre-pandemic figures in 2019. For example, the net sales from Casino Cosmopol properties owned by the Swedish state decreased by 71% compared to the 2019 levels. A similar situation was noticed in the case of brick-and-mortar gaming operators whose net sales numbers were also smaller than the 2019 figures by 47%.
Online Gambling Revenues Went Up by 6% in 2021
Revenues from online gambling went up 6%, in spite of the imposed SEK5000 ($516) monthly deposit limits for online casino players that were eventually removed in November. The government was planning on bringing these deposit limits back at lower levels, but the idea was dropped. All in all, Sweden’s commercial sports betting and online gaming sector generated over SEK16bn of the total net sales in 2021. The first and third quarters of 2021 both managed to break the SEK4 billion ($412 million) mark, a goal that was never reached in 2019. Q4 also went over the SEK7 billion ($722 million) in net sales registered by all gaming sectors.
Q4 ended with approximately 70,000 self-exclusion requests from gambling through Spelpaus.se, the country’s official self-exclusion register. The numbers were up 5% compared to the previous quarter of the same year. Sales from slot machines and the Svenska Spel lottery went up by 6% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Around 95 companies had active licenses at the end of 2021. Out of them, 65 had certifications that allowed them to offer online gambling or betting services.
At the beginning of 2022, Sweden’s government decided to reintroduce a series of online gaming restrictions in the context of the omicron Covid-19 variant quickly spreading throughout the country. The restrictions that were also present during the first pandemic wave were tightened as a means of fighting off the rise in online gamblers expected to occur as a result of the restrictions. However, a study on the topic has not yet been completed. Spelinspektionen considers the new restrictions that now limit weekly deposits at SEK4,000 ($444) a good decision.