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The Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) has published its annual report for 2021, detailing its progress during the year and setting out its key objectives for the next 12 months.

According to the report, the Swedish gambling market generated SEK26bn in GGR during the year, some 5% ahead of 2020. While restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic continued in place for much of the year, including shutdowns of land-based venues, GGR continued to grow overall.

The regulator generated SEK53.1m in supervision fees in 2021, up 0.9% year-on-year, of which SEK43.4m was spent on costs and expenses. This left a remaining balance of SEK9.7m, significantly lower than 2020’s remaining balance of SEK21.5m.

The majority of fees, at SEK41.6m, came from commercial operators, while state-owned and charitable operators paid SEK8.2m and SEK2.3m in fees, respectively. Land-based gaming brought in an additional SEK962,000.

Spelinspektionen also generated a further SEK13.7m in penalty fees, an increase of 26.0% over 2020.

The regulator received 622 licence applications during 2021, of which 287 were approved and eight were rejected. Decisions on the remaining applications will be made during 2022.

This brought the number of valid licensees in the country to 2,354 as of 31 December 2021, an increase of 6.4% over 2020.

A market survey of the Swedish population carried out in November showed that 73% of adults had gambled in the past 12 months – a significant increase from 66% in 2020.

Lottery and draw games proved the most popular, with 75% of respondents stating they had taken part in such games.

A further survey focused on online gambling showed that 7% of online players still claimed to use operators without a Swedish licence. However several of those, when asked which sites they played on, listed operators which do in fact hold a Swedish licence. 

A further 12% said they did not know whether they played with operators which were licensed or not, but the regulator said most appeared to play on licensed websites.

Spelinspektionen commented that because the re-regulation of Sweden’s gaming market is still in its infancy (since 2019), the work of the authority needs to be continually evaluated and adapted to meet the needs of the market.

Last month, the regulator released a new advertising campaign encouraging consumers to gamble with licensed operators.

The number of self-excluded customers in Sweden grew from 60,000 at the end of 2020 to 71,000 at the end of 2021, an increase of 18.3%. Three quarters of self-excluded customers were men and 25% women.

A new system for the operation of self-exclusion scheme Spelpaus is currently under development and is expected to be operational in summer of this year, according to the regulator.

An evaluation of the temporary gambling restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to be published no later than 15 March. Those restrictions, which included bonus and deposit limits for online casino, are no longer in force.

A second report evaluating the short and long-term development of the gambling market, with proposals for changes to the existing licensing system intended to strengthen consumer protection, will be published no later than October 2023.

Both of these evaluations will be carried out together with the Swedish Public Health Agency, the Swedish Consumer Agency and the Swedish Enforcement Agency.

“Our mission is becoming increasingly important in a market with more licensees and a higher proportion of players, especially in light of the many constitutional proposals concerning changes to the regulations that are being considered,” said Spelinspektinoen director general Camilla Rosenberg. 

“The proposals will have a major impact, among other things, on the authority’s future work against match-fixing and unlicensed gaming activities if they are implemented. To handle these new missions and data, the authority needs to grow further in order to maintain strong consumer protection and continued confidence in the regulation,” she concluded.

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