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How Sweden became a hotbed for online gaming


18 May 2019

The importance of Sweden in the online gaming industry can and should not be underestimated as the region’s strength in this sector continues to grow.

While Sweden leads the way for online gambling among its Scandinavian counterparts, Norway, Finland and Denmark aren’t too far behind.

In the mid 2000s, major bookmakers began realising the potential to gain an online presence in Scandinavia, especially Sweden, as they noticed a surge in popularity among players. It subsequently led to competition for Swedish employees at a number of the top companies as they fought to capitalise on what would be a huge advantage.

Kindred Group motivates upward surge in Swedish gambling

Often forgotten about in the general hierarchy of online gambling conglomerates, the Kindred Group can comfortably claim that it’s in the top three biggest online betting organisations in the world, boasting a strong and robust Swedish presence.

Founded by Anders Strom in 1997, Kindred Group began to swiftly swallow the Scandinavian gambling market with brands like Unibet, 32Red and Maria Casino quickly becoming household names, not just in the Baltic region, but across most of Europe as well.

With a high level of innovation in the region, particularly in Sweden which also leads the way in the gaming market following the creation of Angry Birds, it is no surprise that the country is home to a core of successful online gaming brands.

High GDP contributes to gaming popularity

Sweden has one of the highest GDPs in the world, so it is of little surprise that this is a contributor to the considerable gaming revenue seen in the country with people having more disposable income.

While gambling isn’t illegal in Sweden, the authorities do take a hard stance on any companies other than state-owned monopolies, part of the reason why many of Kindred Group’s brands have been forced to headquarter abroad, now residing in tax havens such as Malta or Gibraltar.

Although it means that the government does miss out on income tax contributions, they have a much more tighter grip on the regulation of gambling, through these monopolies, the oldest of which was started in 1934.

UK market a target for Swedish brands?

Perhaps the biggest clue to Swedish betting brands might be about to make a considerable move in the UK market, was following Kindred Group’s acquisition of British bookmaker Stan James, who had started to make waves themselves, holding a strong horse racing customer contingent – one that Kindred no doubt thought that they could utilise across its other companies.

Furthermore, their brands had started to establish strategic partnerships in the UK, with 32Red aligning itself with football club Leeds United, becoming the official sponsor in what was considered an aggressive, yet clever move in the industry as they strived for market share.

This clever move formed a part of a very astute tactic by the bookmaker. They focused on football clubs in the second tier who had a chance of being promoted to the Premier League and subsequently added Aston Villa, Derby County and Middlesbrough to their repertoire for the 2018/19 season.

Being much less costly than a Premier League club, 32Red hedged their bets, knowing that if the gamble paid off, they have achieved a masterstroke.

With Unibet also starting to appear on British television adverts, Sweden is gradually starting to gain a foothold in the UK, setting what could be an interesting precedent for future Scandinavian online gambling companies.