|Population July 2013:||10 million|
|GDP 2012:||379 Billion EUR|
|GDP per capita:||29,600 EUR|
|Online gambling:||state monopoly|
The Swedish Lotteries Act of 1994 regulates gambling in Sweden and is based on the principle that a permit is required to organise gambling, including lotteries, in Sweden. These permits are subject to governmental inspection. The Gambling Authority, Lotteriinspektionen, directly placed under the Ministry of Finance, is the supervisory authority. Swedish gambling law has the following four objectives: to counter criminal activity, to counter negative social and economic effects of gambling, to safeguard consumer protection interests, and to apply the profits from gambling to objectives that are in the public benefit or are socially beneficial (the state treasury or good causes). Organizing gambling in Sweden without a licence is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, as is, in principle, the promotion for profit of unlicensed gambling. However, in a case that went to the European Court of Justice, the Swedish high court has determined that imprisonment is a disproportionately heavy punishment for the latter offence. The current legal situation, from the illegality of online gambling to the compatibility of the monopoly regime with EU law, can be characterised as somewhat uncertain. Sweden’s gambling regulation is being scrutinized by the European Commission. The government has hinted at revising its gambling law since 2008, but so far there has been little action. It does not appear likely that the government will opt for a very liberalized gambling framework.
Next to the lottery of the state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel, Sweden counts about 45 national charity lotteries (called rikslotterier, or national lotteries). The Gambling Authority may grant an unlimited number of permits for these non-commercial lotteries with a national scope. Lotteries have a national scope when they are arranged in more than one county. Permits for local lotteries, operating within one county, are issued at the level of municipality, region or the government. Permits may be revoked in case the permit holder fails to comply with the provisions of the Lotteries Act.
Since 2002 the state-owned Svenska Spel has the sole right to offer online sportsbetting and poker and ATG the sole right to offer online horse racing betting in Sweden. They are also allowed, like all other landbased operators, to offer online scratch tickets and bingo. Foreign online gambling operators are not allowed to offer online gambling in Sweden but there has been a huge increase in advertisements from unregulated operators. According to a report by TNS SIFO the regulated operators invested in 2013 € 8,7 million per month on average, and the unregulated invested € 13 million per month. The figures for 2014 reveals that the regulated market spends € 9 million per month and the unregulated € 23 million per month.
According to the Swedish Gambling Act the promotion of participation in foreign gambling operators are prohibited, but the Swedish Gambling Authority has had difficulties to fight against illegal advertisements. This is because European law prohibits the discrimination on grounds of nationality, which means that the fines they issued to media companies have been rejected in several court cases. For several years, a re-regulation of the Swedish online gaming market has been discussed but there are no predictions as to when a new law will be implemented.
THE GAMBLING MARKET
The total Swedish (legal) gambling market achieved a turnover of around SEK 42.1 billion (€4.7 billion) in 2012. The wholly state-owned Svenska Spel and the state-controlled AB Trav and Galopp (ATG) have a market share of 75%, excluding the lottery operations of Svenska Spel, which alone account for an additional market share of 9%. National lotteries have a market share of 13% (SEK 5,263 million, or € 593 million), local lotteries 0.2%, and bingo and private actors hold the remaining 3%.
Of the lottery market, which amounted to SEK 9,019 million (€ 1,016 million) in 2012, Svenska Spel has a market share of 41%, the national lotteries have 58% (SEK 5,263 million (€ 593 million)) and the local lotteries 1%. Within the market of national lotteries, there are 4 large players, namely the Svenska PostkodLotteriet (57% of the market), Folkspel (18%), Miljonlotteriet (11%), and Kombispel (10%). There are a number of smaller national lotteries, but together they capture only the remaining 4% of the lottery market.
According to Svenska Spel, there are around 150 unlicenced foreign online gambling operators targeting the Swedish market, representing a serious threat to the monopolies of Svenska Spel and ATG. When the illegal online market is included with a market share of 14% in 2012, Svenska Spel’s overall market share stands at 49%, a decline from 57% in 6 years. Svenska Spel is not permitted to offer casino and slot machine games online.
A principal actor in the Swedish gaming field is composed of the non-profit associations that organize the national lotteries. National lotteries can only be organized by non-profit associations with a public purpose objective. These associations can apply for a license to organise lotteries and bingo to raise funds for their organisation. Additional requirements are a prize pay-out percentage between 35% and 50%, and a ‘reasonable’ amount of the proceeds must be destined for the charity’s purpose; the Lotteries Act does not specify this percentage. In practice, the Gambling Authority accepts a percentage of at least 20%. Most associations with a licence make use of an external operator to organize their lottery; several associations can also cooperate to host a lottery under one brand name. The Authority accepts that the external operators will make some profit from running the lotteries.
The Svenska PostkodLotteriet was launched in September 2005. This Swedish charity lottery distributes an increasing amount (33% in 2012) of total revenues to Swedish charities. The goal is to raise this percentage to 40%.
The license holder, Svenska PostkodFöreningen, is responsible for the distribution of the donations to the beneficiaries. All beneficiaries of the lottery are members of this association and the independent Supervisory Board chooses new charities if expansion is possible after a growth in turnover.
In 2012, total sales amounted to € 348.9 million (↑4%) of which € 115.9 million (33%) was distributed to 40 beneficiaries, such as WWF, Alzheimer Foundation and Children’s Rights in Society. Prize money constituted 40% of sales (€ 138.7 million). For more information visit: www.postkodlotteriet.se.
In January 2015 a new lottery was launched in Sweden, the Svenska Medaljlotteriet. The purpose of the lottery is to generate funding to the Swedish Olympic Committee, the Swedish Ski Association and the Swedish Sailing Association. The lottery's vision is to make more sports dreams come true. The future surplus generated from the Swedish Medal Lottery will enable more people to reach their full potential. By doing that, Sweden will see more Swedish medals at international sports championships and this in turn will inspire more children and youngsters to try out new sports and stick to the ones they already practice. For more information visit: www.medaljlotteriet.se
The second largest national lottery is Folkspel, made up of a group of 69 NGOs, with a membership base of 5 million in total. Among these NGOs are the National Sports Association, the Breast Cancer Association, the Rheumatism Association and the Association for Senior Citizens. Folkspel arranges, among others, the BingoLotto, its
most successful game which generates a large part of Folkspel’s income. Local sports clubs and organisations recruit members to sell tickets for this lottery. The National Sports Association accounts for approximately 90 percent of the tickets. Since the establishment of BingoLotto in 1991, SEK 15.6 billion (€ 1.8 billion) has been donated to the charity organisations.
Turnover in 2011 amounted to SEK 1,158 million (€ 131 million), prizes to SEK 416 million (€ 47 million, 36%), costs to SEK 623 million (€ 70 million, 54%), and profit for charity to SEK 118 million (€ 13 million, 10%). For more information visit: www.folkspel.se.
Miljonlotteriet is owned by the charity IOGT-NTO, which has organized lotteries since the 1960s. IOGT-NTO’s aim is to prevent the misuse of drugs and alcohol by young people. Miljonlotteriet offers cash and merchandise prizes for their lottery and bingo games. Players can subscribe (also online) or buy tickets via retail outlets, and can play bingo online.
Turnover in 2011 amounted to SEK 580 million (€ 65 million), prizes to SEK 257 million (€ 29 million, 44%), costs to SEK 192 million (€ 22 million, 33%), and profit for charity to SEK 131 million (€ 15 million, 23%). Miljonlotteriet has about 250,000 customers playing via subscription or online. For more information visit: www.miljonlotteriet.se.
Kombispel offers several types of games of chance. It was created in 1956 by the Socialist Workers Party (SAP) and the Swedish Social Democratic Youth (SSU). It is still owned by these political parties, who are also the beneficiaries of the proceeds. They organize three kinds of lotteries, the Kombilotteriet, the Drömreselotteriet (Travel lottery), and the Motorlottoriet (Car Lottery), scratch cards and bingo. The three lotteries share a jackpot, but differ in their main prize appeal. It is possible to take out a subscription for the monthly draws.
Turnover in 2011 amounted to SEK 513 million (€ 58 million), prizes to SEK 234 million (€ 26 million) (46%), costs to SEK 51 million (€ 6 million) (10%), and profit for charity to SEK 228 million (€ 26 million) (44%). For more information, visit: www.kombispel.se.
As far as we know, no other charity lotteries exist in Sweden that meet the format of a charity lottery. As other lotteries do distribute part of the sales to public benefit purposes, they are mentioned below.
The Swedish government has issued an exclusive permit to AB Svenska Spel; a national state-owned lottery established in 1996 as a result of a merger between Tipstjänst (sports betting) and Penninglotteriet (the national lottery). Svenska Spel offers numbers games, such as the lotto
and bingo, lotteries, and poker (also online). It has a monopoly on sports betting monopoly (also online), VLTs (gaming machines), and for casino’s. Svenska Spel‘s market share of has been declining in the past 6 years, from 57% to 49% in 2012.
The national lottery of Svenska Spel is subject to control of the Ministry of Finance and any profits are delivered to the state treasury, to be distributed by the government and parliament. In addition, the board of Svenska Spel is appointed by the Swedish government. At least one lottery is dedicated for cultural benefit, of which the revenues are distributed by the Ministry of Culture. Guidelines for the distribution of the profits are determined by the Swedish Parliament.
In 2012, the turnover of Svenska Spel was SEK 22,843 million (around € 2.6 billion) and net gaming revenue (or GGR) amounted to SEK 9,815 million (€ 1,105 million, 43%), of which an income of SEK 5,138 million SEK (around € 579 million; 23%) was paid to the state treasury. The state distributes part of the income to good causes through the government and parliament. Svenska Spel reserves SEK 50 million (€ 5.6 million) for a direct donation to Swedish amateur sports. Prize money was SEK 13 billion (around € 1.5 billion, 57%). For more information see: www.svenskaspel.se.