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  • The Swedish Government proposes shutting down Svenska Spel’s casino Cosmopol, ending all land-based casinos in Sweden
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Traffic to land-based casinos has been reducing in the last decade and Sweden is among European countries taking the hit. The Swedish government in early May forwarded a proposal that is likely to see the only remaining Swedish land-based casino closed. Casino Spel, operated by state-owned company Svenska Spel, is the only remaining land-based casino in Sweden.

Why the proposal?

In its statement, the government argues that the venture “no longer fulfils its purpose”. The same statement goes on to note that this business has been facing a lot of challenges that have ultimately affected its profitability. The state agency also highlights that the closure of Casino Spel is not likely to affect illegal gambling.

If the proposal passes, the land-based operations will be expected to shut down by 1 January 2026. Svenska Spel’s right to operate land-based casinos in Sweden will be revoked. At the moment, Svenska Spel’s only remaining casino is in Stockholm, and 200 jobs are at stake.

Svenska Spel’s venture closures

At one time, Svenska Spel operated four casinos in different locations in Sweden. However, profitability issues saw the company close three locations within four years.

The establishment in Sundsvall was the first one to face the axe in 2020. Casino Cosmopol Sundsvall was opened in 2001 and described as the ‘first international casino in Sweden”. However, the number of players visiting the casino had been on a free fall since 2010, making the management reach the hard decision of closing the facility permanently. The closure of the venue saw 68 staff members lose their jobs.

The company closed its ventures in Gothenburg and Malmö in January 2024 for similar reasons. Erik Strand, the chief executive at the time, acknowledged that it was an emotionally tough decision, but they had to take it as all the measures they took to remain operational didn’t seem sufficient. The closure of the two venues led to the loss of over 200 jobs.

The three closures can be attributed to one thing: loss of revenue due to declining foot traffic. The shift from land-based to online gambling accelerated after the 2019 gambling market reregulation and the subsequent pandemic.

This transition resulted in a surge of online casinos in Sweden. Players faced difficulty choosing among the many options as the number of platforms grew. To help, comparison websites like online-casinos.com emerged, offering valuable assistance in evaluating and ranking online casinos.

Statement from Svenska Spel

Ola Enquist, the CEO, says that he acknowledges the news and describes it as a possible “end of an era”. Part of his statement reads, “if the bill is adopted, it means that our last casino will be closed. This move will affect all of us that work in the casino. However, we shall do everything to support our employees. We also promise to keep open as long as we can and take care of our guests”.

Svenska Spel’s financial and regulatory woes

A financial report released by Svenska Spel in the first quarter of this year shows that the Casino Cosmopol and Vegas business area has faced an almost 32% decline in revenue.

A similar report shows that the arm generated £69.3m in revenue in 2023, which is a 12% decrease. However, the same report showed that the company was winning on other fronts, as the Sport & Casino and Tur lottery sections registered increases of 4.6% and 0.6%, respectively.

A close look at all the channels shows that the online sector experienced a 7.2% growth while revenue from the casino fell by 11.4%.

Business Area% ChangeYear
Total Revenue-122023
Casino Cosmopol and Vegas-32Quarter 1 2024
Sport & Casino4.62023
Tur lottery0.62023

Casino Casimol was fined £154,000 by Spelinspektionen, a Swedish regulator in late 2023. The regulator started its probe in November 2021 and found that the operator failed in several areas regarding customer awareness based on the Money Laundering Act.

The fine saw the company institute various measures and improved systems for monitoring and recording transactions. The company also noted that AML measures and increased social responsibility activities were some of the reasons they were operating at a loss.

The state of gambling in Sweden and its future

Sweden is one of the more lenient countries in terms of gambling regulations. Swedish Gambling Act (GA) of 2019 dictates how various gambling activities like betting, lotteries, combination gambling and pyramid schemes should be conducted. Before the Gambling Act, operating a gambling facility was a reserve of public benefit associations or state-owned entities.

The 2019 Act opened doors for commercial operators. However, any operator offering gambling activities defined by the Act should acquire a license. It is illegal to offer such services without a Swedish license. The Act is designed to ensure that all gambling activities are conducted safely. It also has a strong focus on consumer protection.

However, the menace of illegal gambling is still huge and the Act hasn’t done much to curb it. Current stats show that illegal gambling constitutes almost 41% of online casino activities. There have been proposals to ban gambling with credit cards in Sweden. However, bodies like the Swedish trade association BOS feel the move will give illegal operators an unfair advantage over their regulated counterparts.

State control and private enterprises

State-owned companies operate all token gambling machines and land-based casinos in Sweden. Svenska Spel, the state-owned agency, operates all of the token gambling machines in Sweden. It also operates the only remaining land-based casino in Stockholm through its Casino Cosmopol. Svenska Spel Sport & Casino AB, another subsidiary in the commercial space, offers online gambling and commercial betting.

All regions in Sweden are exposed to the same gambling guidelines and regulations. Foreign operators with offerings ‘directed’ to the Swedish market must abide by the Gambling Act. For instance, a website that shows winnings or offers deposits and withdrawals in Swedish Krona. An online gambling platform that uses payment processors localised for the Swedish market or uses “.se” as the domain extension also falls into this category.

The future of gambling in Sweden

If the proposal passes, there will no longer be a land-based casino in Sweden after 1 January 2026. This proposal takes effect in almost one and a half years, and a lot can change within that time.

Are we likely to see the government allowing private individuals to operate land-based casinos? We can only wait and see. However, if the proposal passes, we are likely to see an increase in online betting and lotteries.

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