But euro pop fans with gambling inclinations need not reach for their wallets. Shaken by the 2014 scandal of voting manipulation and infamous voting robots, state-backed firm Svenska Spel has announced it will not offer any Melodifestivalen betting this year.
“We cannot guarantee safe gambling for our customers. We need to be completely sure of how the conditions of the event and the vote monitoring will work,” Svenska Spel press officer Johan Tisell told Swedish newspaper Expressen.
This is despite broadcaster SVT announcing a change to the voting rules this year – one telephone account may now submit no more than 20 votes at a time – after it was reported a so-called voting robot had been used on at least one occasion in the past couple of years. The robot automatically calls the voting phone lines and can submit up to 2,500 votes for one number.
Generally known as the show nobody claims to watch but everyone has seen, the Swedes have a rather complicated relationship with Melodifestivalen. Some love it, others hate it and some love to hate it.
But strike up a conversation with any Swede and they will unfailingly slip into the conversation that Sweden is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest – Loreen took home their fifth victory with ‘Euphoria’ in 2012 – sharing their second place with France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom behind Ireland, which has racked up an impressive seven victories over the years.
For those who love the competition and are not afraid to say so, Melodifestivalen has launched a new app where viewers can show off their votes to their friends – and snoop on their neighbours’ voting preferences.
“When you use the app it creates real-time engagement and we hope it will bring the big live event a little bit closer to those at home watching on TV from their couch,” Christel Tholse, Melodifestivalen 2015 manager, told SVT.
The first group stage kicks off in Gothenburg on Saturday, with a line-up of seven artists including manga-inspired dollhouse band ‘Dolly Style’ facing off with rap artists Behrang Miri and Victor Crone.
28 acts in total are set to compete in four group stage competitions, followed by Andra chansen ('second chance') on March 7th where the runners-up vie for a place in the Swedish final in Stockholm on March 14th, the winner of which will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on May 23rd.