The unique ecosystem of the iGaming industry means that small countries and territories can have an outsized influence on the sector. Places like Malta and Gibraltar, for example, are among the most influential jurisdictions for the regulation of the betting and casino industry across Europe. This is a consequence of the off-shore licensing system, where many big gaming operators have headquarters in those microstates.
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But Sweden, while not a small country, nonetheless has had a massive influence over the iGaming sector over the past 25 years or so. In fact, we might argue that no other country has shaped the modern online betting and gaming industry quite like the Nordic country. Dozens of the biggest sports betting and casino brands have emanated from Sweden, and they have set the blueprint for many others to follow.
Unibet was one of the pioneers of online sports betting
A case in point is Unibet, which was founded in Sweden in 1997. From humble beginnings in Stockholm, the Unibet brand now operates in over 100 countries worldwide. You can see from this Unibet review focusing on its Australian operations that it is a popular choice for horse racing betting Down Under. Yet, the company has a wide range of products. For example, it has permeated the burgeoning North American market with a license from Pennsylvania to cover sports betting and online casino.
While Unibet is arguably a good example of those customer-facing iGaming companies that shaped the online betting and gaming industry in the late 1990s, Sweden’s influence is perhaps better seen behind the scenes. There are two names, in particular, that spring to mind: NetEnt, one of the most popular developers of online slots, and Evolution Gaming, the foremost developer of live casino games in the world. Both Swedish brands were major factors in forming the current model of online casinos.
Indeed, looking at Evolution Gaming and NetEnt is an interesting case study of the past, present and future of iGaming. While mergers and acquisitions are common in the B2C side of iGaming, they haven’t been the norm with B2B businesses, i.e., software providers. Evolution Gaming has started to change that.
First, it bought its compatriot company and erstwhile rival NetEnt. Next, it gobbled up Big Time Gaming, an Australian developer of online casino games. And now, it is in talks to acquire another important casino games developer, No Limit City. The deal should go through later this year.
As you can see by the chart below, there has been remarkable growth for Evolution Gaming. In the last few years, it has even surpassed some of the world’s biggest casino resort brands:
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Evolution is in position of dominance to shape online casino sector
The point, as such, is that the online casino industry has always been defined by having a multitude of software providers. It doesn’t matter if you are playing online at Caesars in New Jersey or Casino.com in
New Zealand – there are dozens of rival companies providing the games. The Swedish behemoth Evolution Gaming is changing that. It’s not quite a monopoly, but it’s the closest thing to a dominant player we have seen in the 30 years or so since online casinos were first created.
All of this is important due to the fact that we are at a pivotal moment for the iGaming industry. While Evolution Gaming is not the only provider of live casino games, it is the market leader by a distance. Moreover, it is banging the drum for the next phase of live casino – one which will further blur the lines between virtual and real-world gaming. For example, the company has launched “Dual Play” in some North American land-based casinos. This means that players can play remotely on real tables alongside those players attending in person.
The next step will undoubtedly be linked to the concept of the metaverse. The iGaming industry is perfectly placed to be disrupted (in a positive way) by that technology. And Swedish companies like Evolution will be in the vanguard.