Sweden’s gambling industry has been monopolized by Svenska Spel since 1997, when the nation’s two largest lotteries, Tipstjanst and Svenska Penninglotteriet, merged to form a single entity. Svenska Spel runs national lotteries and controls all casino gambling in Sweden, which amounts to just four large gambling centers. Swedish gambling laws have long supported this monopoly for the sake of reducing problem gambling among Swedes.
Svenska Spel wants to continue to expand, but several factors are preventing this from happening. A few weeks ago the group proposed the addition of a new Lotto style numbers game to their product line, but Sweden’s National Public Health Institute is fighting to keep the game from launching. More products, they argue, means more chances for players to develop gambling problems.
The fact is that Sweden is home to a large number of problem gamblers. Gambling addiction centers in Stockholm have seen a 30% increase in patronage this year. This rise in the number of players seeking help comes in spite of an overall decrease in gambling activity in general across the nation.
The biggest obstacle Svenska Spel faces, however, is competition. The nation’s Gaming Board estimates that there are 3000-5000 illegal gambling machines in the country producing a turnover of five billion dollars each year. Even more revenue is lost to underground casinos, which often take the guise of private member clubs.
Unlicensed online gambling sites in Sweden prove an even tougher foe. Svenska Spel CEO Anders Hägg last week criticized the lack of progress made towards controlling Sweden’s gambling market, arguing that competition from offshore gambling websites is weighing heavy on the company’s results. Since the Gaming Board produced their Gambling Report in December 2008, little progress has been made towards shaping the face of internet gambling in Sweden.