Swedish gambling participation drops to 60% in 2019

4 December 2019

The latest edition of Sweden’s annual survey on gambling participation has revealed that the percentage of the country’s adult population has dropped six percentage points in the past year.

The study, carried out by polling specialist Novus on behalf of the country’s regulatory body (Spelinspektionen), revealed that 60% of adults said they had gambled in the past 12 months.

This marks a decline from 66% in the 2018 edition, and a 16% drop since the survey was first carried out in 2013.

Novus conducted 1,600 web interviews with Swedish adults during October, with 45% saying they had gambled in the past month, of which 31% had done so in the past week. A further 21% said they had gambled more than a year ago, with 17% saying they never gambled and 2% unsure whether they had done so.

Of the 31% that gambled in the past week, these tended to be male (39% of respondents) and aged between 50 and 64 years old (43%). Men were even more dominant among players that gambled in the past month, making up 50% of players, with 50-64 year-olds comprising 58% of this number.

Lottery remains by far the most popular form of gambling, with 75% of gamblers saying they had played in the past year. Other numerical or draw-based games followed, played by 50%, then betting on horse racing, which was played by 38%.

Sports betting lags behind, played by 21% of those surveyed, with casino on 5%, with only poker less popular.

Retail still dominates in Sweden, with 48% of gamblers going to betting shops to play, ahead of using mobile devices (29%) and computer (19%). Of those that use mobile or desktop devices, the former monopolies reign supreme, with 63% saying they gamble with Svenska Spel, followed by AB Trav och Galopp in a distant second, on 17%.

Of the private licensed operators, bet365 leads the way, though it is used by just 4% of gamblers, followed by Unibet on 3%. While players have largely migrated to the licensed market - 78% said they only gamble on licensed sites - 4% continue to play via sites without a licence, with 18% unsure whether their preferred operator is certified or not.

Swedish adults tended to play as a form of entertainment, which 62% of players cited as their main reason for gambling, up one percentage point from 2018. The second biggest motivation was to win big (31%), followed by 30% who said the probability of a win encouraged them to gamble.

In terms of what was most important for players when selecting a operator with which to gamble, security was cited by 40% of respondents as crucial, followed by 36% that said they looked for the most entertainment offer. With the Swedish Gaming Act, which regulates online gaming for the first time, coming into force from January this year, 33% said knowing an operator was licensed by Spelinspektionen was important to them.

For those that hadn’t played for more than a year, or never played, 43% did not state a reason for not doing so, though 29% said this was because they never won when they gambled. Just 2% of this segment said it was due to gambling problems.

Turning to the perception of the industry, there are signs that trust in the industry is declining. The survey revealed that 37% of players believe that operators are taking responsibility for protecting players, down from 40% in 2018, and an eight percentage point decline from 2014.

However, just 2% of players believe they have gambled excessively in the past year, though this rises to 5% when respondents were asked whether friends or family were doing so. Furthermore, players generally do not know where to turn for help if they feel their habit is getting out of control, with 78% unaware of where to seek help.