This week, the Swedish Research Institute of Industrial Economics released a report which disclosed some surprising connections between the Swedish government and the online casino industry.
Residents of Sweden are permitted to gamble online in accordance with Swedish gambling laws, but only at online casinos that are based within the country. All foreign casinos are refused permission to be licensed within Sweden.
Surprisingly, the government operated Swedish National Pension Fund is heavily invested in multiple online casinos such as Unibet, Betsson, Net Entertainment and Ladbrokes. The total value of the government’s investment in foreign online gambling companies is close to one billion Kroner.
Analysts consider it odd that the Swedish government would invest the country’s pension fund in the same online casinos that it refuses to grant licenses to operate within Sweden. The Swedish internet casino industry, excluding the Svenska Spel government monopoly, has a market capitalization of over SEK19 billion.
The Research Institute report reveals that 26% of all gambling within Sweden takes place on the internet and that the online casino industry is one of the country’s biggest employers. The internet gambling industry employs as many citizens as the national auto manufacturer Saab, and is much more successful.
The Research Institute report points out that the Swedish video game industry, often used as an example of Swedish technological superiority and financial success, is insignificant compared to the online casino sector, which is worth much more, employs more highly educated people, performs better and is more profitable.
The report recommends for the Swedish government to embrace internet gambling, to open up the market to foreign competition, to bring legislation in line with EU regulations and to take a leading position within this profitable industry.