David Schwieler Takes Part in EGR Nordics Roundtable

David Schwieler – Glitnor Group


1.      The Nordics has been a region that is becoming increasingly popular for iGaming companies to expand their international footprint. For you, why do you think more operators/suppliers are turning their attention towards this region?

I think there’s an important distinction that needs to be made here and that’s that it’s not so much an increase in the number of operators that are entering Sweden, but rather the number of sites that are being run by those operators. The reason for this is that it’s an incredibly difficult market in which to grow your business by more than 10% per annum, so companies are diversifying their offering by providing new brands instead. This way, it’s much cheaper for them to acquire customers with an empty database than it is to continue growing their existing site.

In terms of Sweden’s appeal, I’d say it definitely benefits from being a mature market where the regulation is very clear. The average player value is quite high and the “pay and play” system they have in place where operators offer their whole package up front in one go makes it very profitable compared to other markets where bonus costs are always ongoing. In light of this, it makes sense that operators are choosing to cash in by launching new brands rather than developing their current sites.  


2.      Are there any particular markets within the Nordic region that you believe are well positioned for growth over the next few years? If so, why?

Looking at the various countries in the region one by one, it was recently announced that Norway will criminalise and close down all foreign iGaming operators in the country, so I would think that would be a bit of a no-go. Denmark, meanwhile, has a prohibitive tax rate in place that makes it tricky to run an online casino brand profitably, so I also don’t see that being on the map any time soon unless things change. Sweden will continue to grow, but that growth will primarily bedriven by operators who are already there launching additional brands to attract new customers, as explained in my answer above.

That leaves us with Finland, which is undoubtedly the Nordic market that is best positioned for growth over the next few years. The country is set to pass proper online gambling regulation in 2026, and when this happens, I can see it being quite similar to Sweden. Sure, the size of the market will be a little bit smaller overall and the player value might be a little less, but with the “pay and play” system in place, it will still be very profitable for operators who do the right thing because they won’t have to worry about costing and automating their bonuses over the longer term.

3.      Conversely, what are the biggest challenges that face those looking to enter the Nordic region? And how can brands effectively navigate these hurdles?

I’d say regardless of the market, my message has always been “it’s not good enough to just be good enough.” First of all you need to have a state-of-the-art product that features strong onboarding and a wide selection of games. Then you need to think about the “pay and play” factor and provide a great package that has that initial appeal for customers. After you have all of those things in place, you should start to think about how you can position yourself so that you add something from a branding perspective – and do that effectively, you need local knowledge.

If you don’t have that footprint in Sweden, you’re not going to make it – and that would be a shame because you’d potentially be missing out on a pretty lucrative market. While it’s since been eclipsed by some of the US states, Sweden is still the 12thor 13th biggest regulated market in the world and the fact that it uses the “pay and play” system means that your spend there is somewhat controlled.


4.      What would you say have been the biggest differences in player trends/behaviours in the region, compared to other markets that you operate in?

I know I keep repeating myself, but the fact that Sweden uses the “pay and play” model really does make it quite different from other markets. With “pay and play”, it’s easy to onboard, easy to deposit and easy to withdraw – and because you’re giving customers a single lifetime bonus offering, you can’t really keep them at the table with the same retention strategies that you’d use elsewhere. As such, it becomes more about the product; that is to say, having the games, having the customer support and making it as easy as possible for players to start their session without any added bells and whistles. It's no trade secret that in order to be successful in Sweden you just need to simplify, simplify, simplify.

Another big difference in the Swedish market operators should be aware of is customer loyalty – or the lack thereof. Because of the way bonuses work over there and the weekly deposit limits that were introduced during COVID, it’s not uncommon for a regular Swedish customer to have accounts at six, eight or even ten online casinos. The challenge then becomes working out how to retain your customer base without being able to incentivise them through bonusing, and one of the best ways to do that is to speed up the process and ensure the players can get to their favourite games even faster.


5.      As the iGaming industry continues to evolve, what emerging technologies or trends do you foresee shaping the future landscape of the Nordic iGaming market?

As I touched on above, at this precise moment in time the best way to be successful in Sweden is to keep things simple. The Nordic iGaming market is regulated and for the most part, it’s pretty generic; so when you start to focus too much on innovation for innovation’s sake, you lose the business. Sure, you need to be innovative when it comes to things like onboarding, but the moment you over-complicate things with tons of added features and functions, you’re ultimately just increasing the time between the player logging in and them being able to play your games.

To take an example from other industries, we’re currently in a swipe environment where customers can intuitively flip through content and choose what they want to play, watch or listen to. In Sweden, I don’t think the swipe approach works particularly well, because then you’re spending more time looking for things and less time interacting. That said, we can still learn from other industries when it comes to meeting customers’ needs, and if a more streamlined method of content delivery emerges that puts the game directly in front of the players, I’m sure that would be very successful.