There’s no denying the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on just about every industry, whether it has caused just a minor ripple or a complete upheaval. While some of these effects are expected, how other markets have been affected may come as a bit of a surprise. 

Taking a closer look at the Swedish online casino market in 2020, it’s clear to see that the pandemic has had a very real and substantial effect on it. But exactly why and how was that made possible, and will these effects continue in 2021? Those are the real questions to examine.

Online gambling takes a hit in 2020

Online gambling in Sweden is seen as a leisure or recreational activity, so one may think it would pick up in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. People have been gathering less and engaging in less social activities in general, so it would make sense to turn to solitary activities at home, such as online gambling. But that’s not the case, according to the statistics.

Sweden's Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) has released some very telling new data which shows that online gambling rates in the country have actually been declining since the outbreak earlier in the year. 

During the months of April and March, the gaming turnover and overall betting rates were down 5.9 per cent and 5.4 per cent compared to the same time in 2019. While that may not seem like a huge deal, when you look at the fact that January and February 2020 saw increases from the previous year, it starts to paint a very interesting picture of what Swedes are doing with their free time.

Picking apart the data more specifically, it was sports betting that really brought the market numbers down. Casino play in fact increased, but not enough to make up for the loss in sports betting.

Lack of sports meant lack of sports betting

The reason for the drop in sports betting is quite evident. Looking back to March, most sporting events was cancelled not just in Sweden and Europe, but all around the world. A decline in sports betting wasn't unique to Sweden – rather it was something markets were experiencing everywhere.

For companies that relied heavily or solely on sports betting, 2020 has been devastating from a profit standpoint. 

How the online casino industry reacted to the pandemic

While sports betting suffered a major drop, online casinos managed to paint a different picture. While still under the umbrella of online gambling, unlike sports betting, casino-style games don't require any live action sports. 

Of course, it's not 2020 without bumps in the road, and another bump was felt in July when the online casino industry implemented restrictions of a new weekly deposit limit for players. Also, there was a cap that was placed on the online casino bonus offers. 

The reasoning behind these rules was to "limit the harm" that online gambling could potentially cause with people feeling stuck at home, bored, and looking for entertainment. These restrictions were met with a lot of push back, as many argued there were no facts or proof to support them. Once the new restrictions came into play, the online casino market started to see the effects.

The workaround was for players to use internationally licensed online casinos so that they wouldn't be confronted with limits.

An industry offering variety to all players

Meanwhile, the online casino industry has worked to not only draw players in, but keep their interest, and keep things fresh by adding a huge amount of variety. The idea is that players can experience new games as often as they like, and never feel bored.

Take the popular online casinos such Hajper.com as a prime example. This online casino offers a massive selection of gaming titles, with new ones being added on a regular basis. Players can have a unique experience each time they play.

Watch for online casinos to continue pushing hard in 2021

So, what’s in store for 2021? All indicators show that these online casinos are going to continue to push to draw in players, keep things exciting, and continue to grow. While 2020 has been far from normal, the hopes are that 2021 will offer more stability and balance.

Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk/

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