Sweden’s unregulated online casino gambling is nearly twice official estimates – study
Political decisions in Sweden’s newly regulated market risk exacerbating unregulated online gambling and jeopardize consumer protection.
Levels of unregulated online casino gambling in Sweden are nearly twice the official estimates, according to a new study by Copenhagen Economics. The study found that 22-28% of online casino gambling and 15-20% of sportsbetting is unregulated, higher than the country’s official estimates for unregulated online gambling.
The findings of the study are concerning but provide valuable insight into the behaviour and motivations of Swedish gamblers at a time when the Swedish government is planning to introduce significant restrictions on the regulated online market activity, including severe deposit restrictions and restrictions on lower football league betting.
According to the study, 40% of Sweden’s online casino customers, and 34% of sports betting customers, either gamble on unlicensed websites or would consider doing so. The study found that unregulated gambling is being driven by customers who believe unregulated websites – which are available, easy to access and visually similar to regulated ones – offer better bonuses or betting odds than regulated websites.
With this in mind, applying significant restrictions on the regulated online market makes these unregulated websites even more attractive – because the restrictions only apply to licensed and regulated websites. This will push more gambling activity towards harmful black-market websites which apply none of the restrictions or any other of Sweden’s social protection obligations, including adherence to the country’s self-exclusion register, like regulated websites must do.
“Online gambling is a consumer-driven market and customers will shop-around for better value, bonuses and products – and even look outside the regulated market to find these. Significant numbers of Swede’s already gamble in the unregulated market and the proposed restrictions to the regulated market will encourage more to do so. For these reasons, black-market companies will be the only people celebrating the restrictions.”
“Black-market gambling is what harms consumers the most. The best way to protect gamblers is to ensure they gamble inside the regulated online environment and are protected by Swedish laws – but the proposed restrictions will have the opposite effect. That’s why we urge the minister to withdraw the restrictions and ensure well-intentioned political decisions don’t have the unintended consequence of exacerbating the country’s already harmful unregulated gambling problem and jeopardize consumer protection even further.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.
 Copenhagen Economics – Study on Sweden’s online gambling market. The study was commissioned by Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS).
 Sweden’s channeling rates for regulated online casino activity (72-78%) and regulated sports betting (80-85%).
 Sweden’s Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) estimates a 85-87% channeling rate for regulated online gambling activity, meaning 13-15% of the country’s online gambling activity is unregulated.