ATG dominates Swedish igaming market in Q1

18 April 2019

Sweden’s newly regulated igaming market has generated total turnover of SEK3.29bn (£271.3m/€313.8m/$352.8m) in the first quarter of the year, with former horse racing monopoly AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) dominating the channel.

Online gaming turnover amounted to SEK1.11bn in January, before declining marginally to SEK1.09bn in February, and remained flat in March. The figures come from the Swedish Tax Authority, supplemented by estimates provided by the country's gambling regulator Spelinspektionen.

Over this period ATG, which lost its monopoly status when the new regulatory regime came into force, generated turnover of SEK1.07bn. In January its turnover amounted to SEK348m, which fell to SEK319m in February before growing strongly to SEK401m in March.

Svenska Spel Sport & Casino, the lottery monopoly’s igaming division, reported turnover of SEK577m for the period. This broke down into SEK188m in January, which then rose to SEK192m in February, and declined to SEK192m in March.

Collectively the two companies’ turnover amounted to 50% of the market total. In comparison, the 60 licensed operators generated turnover of SEK1.64bn in the first quarter of the year. Private operators generated turnover of SEK573m in January and February, with the total falling to SEK498m in March.

No breakdown of turnover by operator, or by product, was provided. Figures released earlier this month revealed that 85% of market turnover across all channels was generated by ten operators, including Svenska Spel and ATG.

However ATG’s dominance is being challenged by Swedish operator association Branschföreningen för onlinespel (BOS), which has submitted a complaint to the Swedish Competition Authority over the operator’s pool betting product.

ATG, BOS says, effectively maintained its monopoly on horse racing betting through its betting pools, which have been built up over four decades in which private operators were unable to compete.

While it has agreed liquidity sharing agreements with foreign operators such as Norway’s Norsk Rikstoto, Danske Spil and France’s Pari-Mutuel Urbain, it has refused to pool liquidity with Swedish operators such as Betsson and Kindred Group.

“Treating gaming companies so differently from a dominant position is an abuse and violates competition law,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said. “Therefore, we have filed a complaint with the Swedish Competition Authority with the request that the pools be opened up to more operators.”

An earlier complaint by BOS to the Swedish Consumer Authority, over Svenska Spel using its lottery monopoly to promote igaming products to customers, has prompted the operator to make changes to its advertising strategy.

“We welcome this decision from Svenska Spel's side, but at the same time note that most of the damage has already been done,” Hoffstedt said. “For three months, the company has, in contravention of competition law, encouraged monopoly customers to play online games.”

The early months of Sweden's regulated market have seen Spelinspektionen moving quickly to crack down on any failures to comply with regulations, and an ongoing debate about the ubiquity of gambling advertising in the market. This has prompted Svenska Spel to cease advertising its online casino offering, calling on rival operators to follow suit.