Overview of the Nordic Gambling Market

In accordance with the EU requirements, the Nordic countries are gradually giving the green light to the gambling industry, which thus is gaining momentum. Currently, the executives actively adopt new legislative amendments. Online gambling market is booming. However, not all the countries are single-minded concerning online casino operators. 

Slotegrator experts have examined the legislative peculiarities of the states in the Nordic region and now offer you the results of the study in our gambling market overview.

What unites the Nordic countries 

Their governments are trying hard to keep a regime of monopoly in gambling, that is the very reason why the Scandinavian legislation is so strict concerning this industry. Scandinavian providers have very limited opportunities. The exception is Denmark that approved serious amendments of the laws in 2012. 

Being under pressure of the EU, Finland and Sweden are slowly beginning to interact with online casino operators. Norway is the only country that is not ready to quit the state monopoly in the gaming business. This country is not a member of the European Union; therefore, it doesn't comply with the legislation of the Alliance.

Scandinavian gambling in figures

The online casino market in the Nordic countries is of great interest among the leading industry operators. Here are the statistics.

According to H2 Gambling Capital, in 2016, one person spends on gambling $390 per year in Norway; $320 in Sweden; $300 in Denmark; $485 in Finland.
Overview of the Nordic Gambling Market 0

The same research company, in the analysis for March 2017, states that the legal segment in the Nordic countries (in particular Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) is constantly growing. And in 2018, thanks to the legislative amendments, it is anticipated to surge.

Overview of the Nordic Gambling Market 1

The chart below shows how online gambling has developed in each state compared to the average in the whole region.

Overview of the Nordic Gambling Market 2
Now let's examine the main countries.

The gambling industry in Denmark

The overall condition of the gambling market.

In 2010, the Danish government had to regulate gambling and to cooperate with the online casino providers and operators. The new law came into force on 1 January 2012.

According to the report of Lotteriinspektionen for 2016-2017, the gambling market in Denmark is divided into two parts. One is regulated, while another is monopolized. The market is structured as follows:

  • 28 gambling providers are licensed to provide online casino services.
  • 15 providers have the license to provide betting.
  • 9 providers have limited revenue licenses for betting or online casino.  A limited revenue license is valid for one year; it is based on the licensee’s gross revenues that cannot exceed 1000 DKK.
  • A state-owned company Danske Spil A/S provides bingo, scratch cards, as well as betting on horse and greyhound racing.
  • Other real money lotteries are provided by Klasse-lotteriet A/S, Almindeligt Dansk Vare-og Industrilotteri, and Landbrugslotteriet.
  • About 40 licenses were issued to conduct poker tournaments.
  • There are 7 land based casinos.
  • Approximately 25 000 slot machines are distributed among 400 licensees.
  • Approximately 675 licenses were issued to the Association of Charity Lotteries with gross sales of $20 000 DKK.

Leading providers.

One of the largest providers in Denmark is Microgaming.  It has recently presented a new project Quick Fire, where operators can use software from different vendors at the same time. Microgaming first began to cooperate with the Danish company Prima Networks that owns 34 brands in Italy, France, and Spain. Today, it owns 25% of all casino licenses issued in Denmark. 

Latest legislation developments.

The latest updates were introduced in late 2015 and came into force on 1 January 2016. The amendments legalized betting on fantasy sports, as well as the changes related to the licensing procedure that is now managed by the national gambling regulator Spillemyndigheden.  
The gambling industry in Finland 

The overall condition of the gambling market.

Considering the fact that Finland also belongs to the Nordics, the country is of great interest to the gambling community.

According to Lotteriinspektionen, a Finnish gaming market consists of three State-controlled sectors:

  • Casinos and slot machines are operated by RAY company.
  • Veikkaus Oy operates State lotteries with cash prizes, scratch cards, sports betting, as well as pool games.
  • Horserace betting – by Fintoto Oy.

Also, in Finland, there are games run by charitable organizations, in particular, non-cash lotteries, keno, and bingo. 

According to the survey conducted by the Taloustutkimus marketing company, 2/3 of the Finnish citizens support the current government policy concerning the state monopolization of gambling. More than 66% of the respondents preferred not to let the foreign gambling companies in the country. Most Finns trust public betting operators Veikkaus, RAY and Finntoto that since 1 January 2017 work together under the name of Veikkaus.

Latest legislation developments.

In mid-December 2017, the government of Finland announced its intention to introduce new requirements for the operation of slot machines: users will have to go through the identification procedure before the game. As reported by the Finnish State-owned gambling monopoly Veikkaus, this will affect more than 18 thousand gaming machines located in supermarkets, petrol stations and other entities not affiliated with the casino. 

The changes should come into force in 2023. However, Veikkaus expects that new identification requirements will take effect prior to the established term in the process of replacing the old slot machines with the new ones.

The gaming industry in Sweden 

The overall condition of the gambling market.

Until recently, Sweden has sustained its gambling monopoly using the local operator Svanska Spel. However, years back, the process of de-monopolization of the national gambling market has begun, and foreign operators of land-based casino received the opportunity to work in the country. However, according to the State-owned Swedish regulator Lotteriinspektionen, the share of public Svanska Spel is still much higher than the share of international gaming companies. 

According to the data obtained from various sources: 

  • The growth of turnover of the gambling market in Sweden was 3.2% in 2017.
  • About 23% of the online betting market in Sweden is illegal.
  • In general, the citizens lost around $2,4 billion while gambling in 2016.
  • Today, in Sweden, there are 4 major land based casinos controlled by Svenska Spel.

The largest casinos/bookmakers.

Currently, online casinos that operate outside Sweden are not prohibited. Moreover, by the legislation of the EU, the Swedes are free to play on these sites. Therefore, many European operators focus on players from Sweden. Some of these sites are owned and operated by the Swedes. These include Expekt.com, Unibet.com, Betsson.com, Casinoeuro.com, etc.

Providers of games.

One of the world's largest software developers for online casinos is an internationally renowned Swedish company Net Entertainment. 

Latest legislation developments.

Recent innovations have touched the Internet. Initially, the issuance of licenses for online gambling in Sweden was scheduled for July 2018 but then was postponed until August 2018. According to the government officials, from 1 January 2019, the online gambling market will be open to licensed international operators. It will finally put an end to the state monopoly of Svenska Spel. 

The gambling industry in Norway

The overall condition of the gambling market.

According to the report of Lotteriinspektionen for 2016-2017, the Norwegian gambling market is partially based on sole rights of the State-owned gaming companies:

  • Norsk Tipping AS offers lotto, keno, lotteries Eurojackpot and Viking Lotto, scratch cards, number games, sports betting, betting terminals (IVT) and online gambling.
  • Norsk Rikstoto offers horserace betting.
  • In addition, there are games organized by private operators sponsored by non-profit organizations. This part of the market consists of bingo, casino on vessels, card games, poker, as well as small local and regional lotteries.
  • Currently, Norsk Tipping AS owns 70% of the regulated market, while Norsk Rikstoto – 12%, private operators –18%.

Latest legislation developments.

In December 2016, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture supervising the gambling market introduced a new law based on the conducted study. It is proposed to reject a licensing system and to strengthen the State monopoly. The government explained the rejection of the monopoly abolition by the fact that the other regulatory framework can contribute to the development of gambling addiction among the population. 
Preferences of Scandinavian players

Norsemen are very gambling people who love playing at their leisure. Gambling in these countries has a long history with its ups and downs. 

Poker is one of the most popular card games in Norway. Annually, the country hosts poker tournaments with capacity of 1500 people. 

In Sweden, online casinos are very popular. And the players are protected as much as possible. The registration procedure on gambling platforms consists of several stages: you need to specify personal information, bank account number, and address.

The Danes are the loyal fans of football and like betting on the national team. Also, online poker and blackjack are very popular in the country.

The Finns particularly value the slot machines and card games — blackjack and poker.

However, all they are passionate about various lotteries. 80% of the population participate in the lotteries on a regular basis.


Despite the fact that the state monopoly on the gambling market is the usual practice in the Nordic countries, gambling sites are becoming increasingly popular among players. Since the Internet has no borders and it is very difficult to monopolize, and the EU law requires equal rights for all gambling operators, the governments are forced to act against its existing prohibitions and make the Nordics open to online gambling.


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