There is a controversy raging in Sweden regarding the way in which the country’s online gambling industry is being handled. A recently concluded gambling review conducted by a state appointed commission suggested that Svenska Spel lose its existing monopoly over the regulated market. However, the people at the state owned gambling monopoly had their own recommendations regarding the regulations needed by the industry, and has put them in the public domain via widely read publication Dagens Samhälle..This hasn’t gone down very well with many sections of the population.
Fredrik Schulte, a lawmaker belonging to the Swedish Moderate Party has taken serious objection to Spel’s highly publicized inputs on the ongoing discussion. He accuses the monopoly of trying to influence public opinion, and hence future legislation, in its favour. He went on to term its latest action as ‘serious mischief’.
Industry Review Unfavourable to Spel
The industry review in question was carried out over a period of 18 months. Its main recommendation has been that the market needs to be opened in order to foster competition which will in turn benefit players and the state. To achieve this, the report says that Svenska Spel should lose its monopoly over licensed iGaming. It also suggested that foreign operators should have the opportunity to get gaming licenses to offer their services to residents of the country. Svenska Spel was set up in 1934 but it hasn’t been able to keep pace with the online gambling revolution.
The head honchos of Spel, Chairman Erik Strand and CEO Lennart Käll, have called for two important aspects to be considered when creating the new gambling regulations. They said that there was great need to emphasize the risks of problem gambling so that it could be minimized. It would also be necessary to put a number of systems in place to control illegal gambling. They also cautioned about permitting overseas operators from entering the market, saying that these companies would have to be thoroughly scrutinized before they could be given licenses from the country’s regulators.
The Grey Market Effect
Local operators in many jurisdictions have seen their business being diminished on account of grey market operators. Therefore, Svenska Spel has emphasised the need for a proper set of regulations that will create proper competition.
Sweden has a substantial gambling market, with around 230,000 players visiting online casinos every day. At present, many of these gamblers have been visiting unlicensed gambling sites because they are not satisfied with the range of products offered by Spel. This puts their money at risk while also denying the government the chance to earn taxes from their online spends. The market is worth approximately $574 million, and this can generate a substantial amount of tax.
It is no surprise, therefore, there is a great deal of interest from international players to enter this lucrative market as long as the government is able to cut the state monopoly’s hold over it. A varied gambling environment with proper regulations to ensure that the rights of individual players are protected will be best for the industry as a whole. After all, there won’t be any reason for Swedes to visit unlicensed sites when plenty of attractive licensed options exist. Besides, they will also benefit from the attractive promotional offers that will surely come their way if there is sufficient competition in the market.
It goes without saying that Sweden’s lawmakers will have the last say on the issue. The Riksdag will be drawing up the new proposals in a bill that will be put to vote. The new gambling law is expected to come into effect in the first half of 2019.